Symptoms and Treatment
for Hepatitis B
What is Hepatitis B (HBV)?
One of three forms of hepatitis, Hepatitis B is a severe liver infection that’s caused by the Hepatitis B virus (HBV). The virus is spread from person-to-person by coming in contact with an infected individual’s blood, semen, or other bodily fluid — although an infected woman can transmit HBV during childbirth. Although an acute HBV infection can be shortlived, sometimes, HBV can become chronic — meaning it lasts for over six months or life — and can increase your risk of developing liver failure, liver cancer, or permanent scarring of the liver (cirrhosis).
What are the symptoms of Hepatitis B (HBV)?
Every individual with HBV experiences different symptoms — while some may have mild symptoms, others may have severe ones. Signs and symptoms of HBV typically appear one to four months after you’ve been infected, although some people can start experiencing them as early as two weeks after being infected. Flu-like symptoms are most common in individuals with HBV, though sometimes they are accompanied by abdominal pain, dark urine, joint pain, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, or jaundice.
How does ID Care diagnose Hepatitis B (HBV)?
Because HBV attacks the liver, the first thing ID Care specialists will look for is signs of liver damage — such as belly pain or yellowing of the skin (jaundice). If present, our team will then perform tests to both diagnose HBV and identify any complications. These tests include blood tests — which help us determine whether you have chronic or acute HBV — liver ultrasounds, or a liver biopsy.
How does ID Care treat Hepatitis B (HBV)?
If you’ve been diagnosed with acute HBV, you may not need any treatment because this form of the infection is short-lived and will leave your body on its own. In these cases, our specialists will recommend that you rest, eat well, and drink plenty of fluids while your body fights the infection. If you’ve been diagnosed with chronic HBV, you may need treatment for the rest of your life. This treatment may include antiviral medications to fight the virus and slow its ability to attack and damage your liver, or, in very severe cases, a liver transplant at one of our affiliated hospitals. Fortunately, our team is equipped with both the resources and the expertise to help ensure your treatment remains as comfortable as possible, no matter how long or short it may be.
How can I avoid contracting Hepatitis B (HBV)?
HBV is preventable with a vaccine — which comes in three different shots. All babies should receive this vaccine, but older children and adults can also receive it. You can also prevent HBV by using latex condoms correctly, although this does not eliminate your risk. In addition, it’s important to be cautious about body piercings or tattoos as this is another means in which HBV can be spread. Remember to ask about how piercing or tattoo equipment is cleaned, and make sure needles are always sterile. Finally, if you plan on traveling internationally, ask our team about the HBV vaccine in advance — because, in some countries, the virus is common.