Hepatitis B

Hepatitis is any infection of the liver. Hepatitis A is usually transmitted by contaminated food, often due to food handlers that fail to wash their hands after a bowel movement. (gross eh?) Also the water in some countries could be contaminated with Hepatitis A. However, this form of hepatitis can also be passed during contact between the mouth and anus. Hepatitis C is commonly transferred by shared needles used for drugs or tattoos.

Hepatitis B is the most common form of hepatitis transferred by sexual contact. It's caused by the highly infectious hepatitis B virus (HBV). It is possible for the infection to subside after about 3 weeks and for the liver to return to normal functioning within a few months. However, make no mistake. Hepatitis B, is a serious illness. If left untreated, it can lead to other liver diseases such as cancer or even death. So if you suspect you have it, see a physician immediately.

Methods of contraction

Hepatitis B is most commonly transmitted through sexual contact. However it can be transmitted whenever one is exposed to contaminated body fluids, including semen, saliva, vaginal secretions and blood.

  • Sexual intercourse
  • Oral sex
  • Kissing
  • Shared needles
  • Unsterile needles used for tattoos and ear piercing
  • A baby can contract the disease from its mother's milk
  • A mother can pass the disease to her developing fetus.

High risk groups

  • Male and female heterosexuals and male homosexuals who are sexually promiscuous.
  • Those who come into close contact with carriers of hepatitis such as medical professionals.
  • Those in a high risk group might consider vaccination as a form of protection. Consult your physician.

Symptoms may not occur.

Even if they don't occur, the infection can still be passed to others. Symptoms may include...

  • Flu-like illness
  • Fever
  • Mild to severe fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Achiness
  • Nausea
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes, and dark tea-colored urine)
  • Tenderness in the upper abdomen

Diagnosis

Blood test

Treatment

  • Prevention is possible by receiving a vaccine
  • An antibody shot may be given
  • Rest, a healthy diet and no alcohol can aid recovery
  • Tell your sexual partners you have it, since they could have acquired it and still not exhibit symptoms.

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