Type: Viral

Symptoms: Many of the symptoms of hepatitis B are general, like loss of appetite, vomiting, nausea, and headaches. The person may even feel flu-like with a fever and aches. The most obvious symptom is jaundice. Jaundice is a yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes, and may cause the urine to appear darker.

** Keep in mind hepatitis B is 100 times more infectious than HIV.

Incubation Period: About 45 - 180 days. Averaging around two to three months.
You may test positive as early as 2 weeks after exposure.
If you think you've been exposed, get tested. It's just a blood test.

The Treatment: There is a vaccine to prevent Hep B. If you are at high risk for getting it, (i.e. you work in a hospital, you are a nurse, dental hygienist, physician, etc., you use needles that other people have used), then you should talk to your health care provider about the vaccine. NO, it's not a treatment if you already have hep B. If you get hep B you need to see an infectious disease doctor who will understand your disease more than your primary care provider. There are medications to help stop the spread of the disease. Most people recover from Hep B, it can take months, usually about 6 months before you feel better.

In the past some people did get hepatitis B from tattoo needles that were cleaned correctly, but if you get a tattoo at a licensed shop they are most likely using those needles only once and using great care to keep their shops as sterile as possible. (Had to mention it).

Many people do recover from Hepatitis B, but they are not cured. Once you get a virus it's "yours forever". You still carry the virus in your blood and bodily fluids. Condoms are a must to prevent spreading the infection to someone else as It is transmitted from one person to another through blood and other bodily fluids (semen or vaginal secretions), just like other STDs.

Left Untreated: Some people suffer serious liver damage or cancer of the liver. About 80% of all liver cancer is believed to be caused by the hep B (HBV) virus. Hepatitis can cause your liver to stop functioning and may lead to cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) or liver cancer, both of which may cause severe illness and even death.

An FYI: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends vaccination for all newborns in order to prevent infection of hepatitis B later on. The vaccine is highly effective and should be strongly considered. It is a personal decision. I don't think that all infants need to be vaccinated for this virus, but that is just my opinion. Of course if someone in the household has Hep B then it would be a way to prevent infection from a blood exposure from a cut, etc. I have given the vaccine to infants of parents who wanted their child to have it, but I don't know if I would vaccinate my own child with it.



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