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Factoid Friday: Hepatitis B


WHAT? Hep. B is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the liver and liver disease. There are two types: acute Hep. B is a short-term infection that only lasts for a few weeks, and chronic Hep. B is a long-lasting infection can cause liver cancer or severe damage to the organ that can cause it to shut down. 

WHO? People most at risk for developing Hep. B include the offspring of mothers that had Hep. B, and people who come in contact with blood, needles, or other bodily fluids of someone already possessing Hep. B. Traveling internationally increases you chances of getting it, as well as undergoing kidney dialysis and taking medication that suppresses your immune system. 

HOW? Engaging in unprotected sex, living with, or using the razor, toothbrush, or nail clippers of someone who has Hep. B can transmit the virus to you. As well as being tattooed or pierced by an unsterile needle, or directly contacting any bodily fluids of someone with Hep. B. 

WHEN? Symptoms of Hep. B can arise 2-5 months after contact with the virus. These include lethargic behavior, muscle and stomach pains, fever, loss of appetite, diarrhea, dark yellow urine, lightly colored stools, and yellow eyes and skin (called jaundice).

WHERE? A simple blood test at your nearby hospital can tell you if you have Hep. B. Acute Hep. B is usually not treated for as it arises and resolves itself in a few weeks time. Chronic Hep. B on the other hand is treated with medications aimed to slow and stop the damaging liver. If the liver damage exceeds in severity, a liver transplant becomes necessary. Remember to consult your physician in all cases.

NOTE: You can avoid getting Hep. B by getting a vaccine for it. We should also note that you CANNOT get Hep. B by hugging or shaking the hand of someone with Hep. B, or by being coughed or sneezed on by them. Nor can you attain Hep. B by sharing eating utensils with them. 

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