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Hepatitis B: A Preventable Liver Disease

Treatment for Liver Disease in Dallas

Many people throughout North Texas suffer from various forms of liver disease. Hepatitis is one of the most common diseases affecting the liver, but the numerous types (Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and Autoimmune Hepatitis) can make finding the right advice confusing. Here, The Methodist Transplant Specialists answers your most important questions relating to the treatment and spread of Hepatitis B.

What Is Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B, or HBV, is a viral infection that causes the liver to swell and prevents it from functioning properly. Hepatitis B may be both acute (lasting less than 6 months) or chronic (lasting more than 6 months). Chronic Hepatitis B may cause additional liver damage including scarring, cancer, and failure.

How Can I Get Hepatitis B?

While Hepatitis B is an infection, it may only be spread through contact with bodily fluids: blood, saliva, semen, and vaginal secretions. The most common ways to contract Hepatitis B include the following:

  • Sexual contact
  • Sharing needles
  • Sharing drug paraphernalia
  • Accidental needle sticks

HBV may also be passed along during childbirth by a mother who has been infected. (Talk with a doctor about ways to protect your baby.)

How Do I Know If I Have Hepatitis B?

Once infected, it may take up to four months for symptoms to appear, if at all. The following symptoms range from mild to severe:

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Pain near the liver
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)
  • Muscle and joint soreness

If you have come in contact with anyone who has Hepatitis B or are experiencing symptoms, see your doctor immediately. If received within 24 hours of exposure, preventative treatment may reduce your risk of infection. A blood test is required to correctly diagnose Hepatitis B.

Is There A Cure For Hepatitis B?

There is no cure for Hepatitis B. However, some treatments may be used to decrease the severity of the infection.

How Is Hepatitis B Treated?

In acute cases, where the infection will go away on its own, proper diet and rest are recommended, along with frequent doctor visits to ensure the body is healing itself. In chronic HBV cases, medication may help prevent liver damage as well as the spread of the virus to others.

How Can I Prevent Hepatitis B?

Vaccination is the best way to prevent infection with Hepatitis B. The HBV vaccine is given in three doses, with the first two doses being given one month apart and the final dose is given six months later. The vaccine is recommended to anyone under 18, but especially for the following those:

  • Working in the healthcare industry
  • With liver disease not caused by HBV
  • With multiple sexual partners
  • Who use drugs
  • Working in prisons, institutions or other group living situations
  • Who live with someone who has HBV
  • Who plan to travel to a country where HBV is common

What Precautions Can I Take to Avoid Hepatitis B?

Anyone can take the following precautions to help protect themselves from the spread of Hepatitis B:

  • Talk with your partner about HBV and other STDs
  • Avoid unprotected sex
  • Avoid illicit drug use
  • Use only trusted business for tattoos and piercings
  • Avoid travel to countries where HPV is common

Have you been exposed to Hepatitis B or know someone who has? Contact us or call us at 1-877-4A-LIVER to find your answers!