What Is Hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is a commonly diagnosed STD that severely affects the liver and could lead to liver failure, cirrhosis, or liver cancer.
Hepatitis B is a viral infection that can cause liver disease. There are a number of ways it can spread, but sexual contact is recorded as the most common way to catch it. Even though there are three types of Hepatitis, Hepatitis B is credited as the most regularly sexually transmitted. It’s estimated that anywhere from 850,000 people to 2.2 million people are currently diagnosed with acute Hepatitis B.
For some individuals, Hepatitis B can become chronic and last up to six months. If your Hepatitis B does become chronic, it may lead to liver cancer, liver failure, or cirrhosis. Damage at this level can leave irreparable scarring for the rest of your life. Symptoms and signs of Hepatitis B vary from mild to severe and usually appear one to four months after initial infection, yet they have been known to show as quickly as two weeks.
Symptoms vary from patient to patient, but common Hep B symptoms include:
- Stomach pain
- Dark urine
- Joint pain
- Loss of Appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weakness and fatigue
- Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
How Do I Get Hep B?
You can be infected with Hepatitis B through many different outlets. Out of three different types of Hepatitis, Hep B is the only one that is transmitted through sex.
Luckily, Hepatitis B is preventable with a vaccine. If you think you have contracted Hep B or have come in contact with the disease, contact your doctor and find out if you’ve been vaccinated. You can catch Hepatitis B through any contact with blood or other bodily fluids. That means that sharing toothbrushes, sharing needles, and having unprotected sex all put you at an extremely high risk of catching something. There are currently no medications to treat acute Hep B but the preventative measures you can take, including vaccination, to treat and prevent Hep B. If you get diagnosed, you may still be able to be administered a vaccination shot, so that’s good news.
Infants born to infected mothers carry an extremely high risk of being carriers of the disease. The chances of infant born HBV is anywhere from 70 to 90% unless they are treated with HBV immune globulin and are vaccinated immediately after delivery. Earlier trans-placental transmission can occur in the womb but is much rarer.
Hep B is currently diagnosed as either acute or chronic. Acute Hep B is usually diagnosed first and appears in the first six months of infection. Most people are treated for acute Hep B with either assistive treatments or if caught early enough, can be treated with the Hep B vaccine. Only when the virus moves into the chronic phase does it start to do unmeasurable damage to your body and liver. If you’re diagnosed with chronic Hepatitis B, you can expect to live a relatively normal life. Even though you’ll be at a much higher risk for cirrhosis or liver failure, modern medicine and liver specialists can help manage the infection. Just remember to visit the doctor at least twice a year.
That means that practicing safe sex is your most effective tool against Hep B and the irreversible damage it could do to your liver. Not only is it transmittable through semen and blood, but the virus lives in mucous and any other bodily fluid you could think of. That means that sharing needles is also an efficient way to catch the infection.
That means that Hepatitis B is regularly diagnosed as a preventable STD. Luckily, it can be prevented and treated when taking the proper steps. One of the most important steps is getting tested. Contact myLAB Box™ and have us send you one of our Hep B tests. Get tested in the comfort of your own home and get the knowledge you need to stay healthy.