Being aware of the signs and hepatitis symptoms is the best way to quickly treat the disease to avoid severe liver damage. Because many of hepatitis B symptoms are similar to that of other diseases, it is important to be aware the repercussions of not treating hepatitis early on. The incubation period from infection to signs or symptoms is usually about six weeks to six months, so it can be difficult to tell if you or your sexual partner is infected. It is important for sexually active teens and adults to watch out for these hepatitis symptoms to ensure they do not spread the disease to other partners.
What is Hepatitis B?
- Hepatitis B is a virus that is found in the higher concentrations of blood and other bodily fluids including semen and vaginal secretions. Hepatitis can be self limited or chronic.
- About 90 percent of infected adults will be able to clear the infection. However for the remaining 10 percent become chronically infected, which can be fatal due to liver failure. Out of children, 30 percent become chronically infected. Almost 90 percent of infants also face chronic infection.
- Unlike other sexually transmitted diseases, hepatitis B can live outside the body for a period up to seven days.
Extensive liver damage and disease is the primary hepatitis B symptom seen as the result of the virus in cases of chronic hepatitis B. Although acute versions of hepatitis B do not cause too much internal damage, there are still outward symptoms including:
- Fever and fatigue
- Nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain
- Dark urine and clay colored bowel movements
- Joint pain
- Jaundice skin
Hepatitis B Transmission:
- Sex with an infected partner
- Sharing injection-based drugs with an infected person
- An infected mother can transfer hepatitis B to her baby during birth
- Contact with blood or open sores of a person infected can transfer hepatitis B
- Sharing certain items with an infected person like razor or toothbrush
- Despite many misconceptions, hepatitis B cannot be transmitted through food, water, eating utensils, breastfeeding, hugging, kissing, coughing or sneezing
- There is no treatment for acute hepatitis B, but the disease should be able to clear on its own.
- For those with chronic hepatitis B, there is no cure. Treatment usually involves the use of an antiviral drug and constant monitoring. This is a necessary practice to be able to supervise the level of the disease progression to prevent liver failure.
- Although it may sound like something you've heard over and over, but the best ways to avoid contracting hepatitis B is to abstain from having unprotected sexual contact. It is also important to avoid drug use especially using the type of drugs where a shared needle is used. This can easily spread the disease from person to person if one happens to be infected with hepatitis B.
- Vaccinations are available to prevent catching and spreading the disease. Remember, it is important for all children and infants to take part in the vaccination process.
- Routine screening of all pregnant mothers is also a good idea to make sure if she is infected, the baby has the chance to be protected from catching the disease at birth.
- Any and all sexually active teens and adults who have not yet gotten vaccinated for hepatitis B should also do so to ensure they do not contract the disease.
Sources: http://www.hepb.org, cdc.gov