What Is Hepatitis B? Symptoms and Spread
Hepatitis B is a chronic and potentially life-threatening virus that can be transmitted from an infected mother to her baby during pregnancy. Hepatitis B infection rates are on the rise worldwide, and it has become a major health concern for women of childbearing age and their infants.
All adolescents should receive the recommended annual vaccine against hepatitis B to help protect themselves against this dangerous disease. In addition, pregnant women should get vaccinated if they have not been immunized yet or if they are planning to become pregnant in the near future.
What is hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is a type of viral infection caused by the Hepatitis B virus (HBV). It is transmitted through the blood or sexual contact, or through injection with an infected blood or body part. Most cases are asymptomatic — meaning they do not appear to be harmful.
The symptoms of hepatitis B include fever, fatigue, malaise, and abdominal pain. During acute infection, these symptoms can last for 3-12 months.
Who Should Be Vaccinated for Hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is an infection caused by a virus. It’s spread through contact with someone who has the Hepatitis B vaccine, usually through sexual intercourse.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is another disease transmitted by the body’s own immune system, and it is also associated with Hepatitis B. HIV can cause serious health problems such as AIDS and AIDS-related conditions.
Less frequently, hepatitis B can be passed from mother to baby during pregnancy or during childbirth. The risk of this transmission is greater in women who are:
> 45 years old
> Who have not received a full course of hepatitis B vaccine during the past 10 years
> Pregnant within two weeks after receiving the vaccine for hepatitis C last year
If you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant in the near future, you should get vaccinated against hepatitis B. Otherwise, you’ll increase your chances of contracting this dangerous infection if you are exposed to someone who has been infected with this virus.
What Is Hepatitis B?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Hepatitis B is a blood-borne viral infection that can cause serious disease in most people. It frequently takes no obvious symptoms, but effects include liver damage and liver failure.
Hepatitis B is routinely spread through unprotected sex with an infected person or through sharing needles or other items used for injection drugs (e.g., syringes, insulin pens) with someone who has been recently infected. Even if you have never been exposed to hepatitis B, it can still be spread by contaminated blood or blood products such as blood transfusions and platelets.
In adults, the most common symptoms are fatigue, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, sudden weight loss, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes). In children under age 15 years old, these symptoms may appear more often than in adults. There is also a possibility of infecting newborn babies with hepatitis B if they are born to an infected mother during pregnancy or soon after birth.
How Is Hepatitis B Spread?
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is spread through contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids. It can be contracted through sexual transmission, such as when a partner has sex with you, and through respiratory fluid such as saliva. It can also be acquired from contaminated food and other items, such as hypodermic needles and syringes used to inject drugs.
Because it is so contagious, hepatitis B can remain in the body for years after being exposed to the virus. Symptoms typically occur six to 12 weeks after exposure to the virus. The most common symptoms of hepatitis B include:
* Muscle aches
* Swollen glands in your neck or armpit called splenomegaly * Chronic fatigue * Fatigue * Nausea * Headaches
When left untreated, hepatitis B can lead to liver damage and even death. This infection needs to be treated immediately if you are at risk of getting this disease or if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy. The best way to avoid becoming infected is by getting vaccinated against hepatitis B before becoming sexually active.
How Can I Get Hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B infection is caused by a virus that spreads from the mother’s bloodstream to her baby. Infection can be passed from the mother to the child during pregnancy, childbirth or some other close contact with an infected person.
There are two forms of hepatitis B (HBV and HBV-containing blood and blood products), which are transmitted through exposure to infected blood, blood products and semen. HBV is spread via sexual contact, either oral or vaginal, although not all people who have sex will become infected.
Individuals at high risk of getting hepatitis B include infants born to women who have had sex with each other—even if they do not know they were exposed—as well as homosexual men who engage in unprotected anal intercourse with another man who has HIV.
How Are People Getting Hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B infection occurs when the hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) is present in the blood. It’s most commonly spread through unprotected sexual contact with an infected person, injection drug use, and sharing needles or IV lines with people who have hepatitis B.
In addition to sexual transmission, hepatitis B can be passed through exchange of bodily fluids such as semen or vaginal fluid. In this case, you are more likely to get infected if you already have a weakened immune system because your antibody levels will be reduced by the previous viral exposure.
If you’re at high risk for getting hepatitis B because of your age, race or gender, it’s important that you get vaccinated against the virus before pregnancy so that your baby can build up enough antibodies to defend against it. If you’re pregnant now or plan on becoming pregnant soon in the future, it may be time for you to start getting vaccinated against hepatitis B.