Hepatitis B (HBV): Symptoms and Consequences

Hepatitis B is a viral infection that attacks your liver. The Hepatitis B virus can seriously impact upon your liver function and can lead to cirrhosis, liver disease, and liver cancer. Over 1.25 million Americans are currently infected with Hepatitis B. Most contract the disease between the ages of 20 and 49, though newborns are also especially at risk. 15% to 25% of chronically infected people die as a result of their liver disease. This infection is now easily preventable through a safe and effective Hepatitis B vaccine.

Hepatitis B Symptoms
Many people infected with Hepatitis B are not even aware that they have the virus. This is because more than 30% of people with the disease suffer no symptoms. Many symptoms of Hepatitis B are similar to a mild flu. Therefore, many sufferers do not seek medical attention. If you think that you may have contracted Hepatitis B, it is important to see a doctor and get tested.

Hepatitis B symptoms can range in intensity. Some symptoms may be milder than others. If you are infected with the virus, you may experience nausea and stomach cramping accompanied with vomiting and diarrhea. You may also feel some abdominal pain, starting on your right side and radiating to your back. Loss of appetite and fatigue are common symptoms of Hepatitis B as are fever and chills.

Another Hepatitis symptom is jaundice, in which your skin may take on a yellowish appearance, as can the whites of your eyes. You urine may also be darker then normal, appearing tea-colored while your bowel movements could appear gray or clay-colored.

Mononucleosis, a viral infection, has symptoms that may be confused with Hepatitis B. If you think you have mono, seek mono relief as soon as possible.

Possible Consequences of Hepatitis B
If you have contracted Hepatitis B, you may be facing serious consequences. Without Hepatitis B treatment, your body can undergo severe liver damage. Your liver is responsible for cleaning the wastes that your body produces. The virus attacks the cells in your liver, leaving behind fat and scar tissue. This prevents the liver from doing its job properly. Your liver may suffer irreparable damage, causing death.

Hepatitis B during pregnancy can seriously affect your baby's health. No treatments for Hepatitis B are available for infected pregnant women. After birth, your baby must receive appropriate medication for the disease, including the Hepatitis B vaccination. Up to 90% of newborns infected with the virus at birth will be chronic Hepatitis B carriers.

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