Hepatitis B is a highly contagious viral infection that infects the liver. If unknowingly left untreated, it can create serious health problems and become chronic in the future. It can be spread by various factors, but some of the most common include the transfer of infected bodily fluids.
An estimated 257 million people are living with hepatitis B worldwide (Cdc.gov). Getting tested not only protects you, but those around you. Many people infected don’t feel or show symptoms for years. Preventing the unknown spread of the virus if undiagnosed is crucial.
At New Roads Treatment Center, we care for your physical and mental health. So, let’s go over who’s at risk for Hepatitis B, when to be tested and self prevention from infection.
Hepatitis B Explained
As Hepatitis B gets worse, the liver tissue becomes highly inflamed. Some symptoms of hepatitis include reduced appetite, vomiting, constant tiredness, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and yellowing of the skin and eyes. Known as jaundice, this discoloration is perhaps the most well-known and easily recognizable sign of Hepatitis.
When it comes to Hepatitis B, it can either be acute or become chronic. If the infection persists longer than 6 months, it has a high chance of moving into chronic symptoms. Chronic hepatitis is what severely affects the long-term function of the liver.
Hepatitis B is a very serious condition and most of the symptoms can be similar to less harmful viruses. It’s important to see a doctor if you’re questioning whether or not you have been exposed to the virus.
Hepatitis B Testing
Testing for Hepatitis B is typically done via blood sample, but in some severe cases, your doctor may order a liver biopsy. Which can also show if liver damage has occurred and how extensive the damage may be.
When it comes to high risk factors, you should consider being tested regularly.
Who Should be Tested
So, who’s most at risk for being infected with Hepatitis B? There’s quite a few factors that put you at high risk. Let’s go over some of the most common.
- Injection drug users.
- Male to male sexual partners.
- Infants with Hepatitis B positive mothers.
- HIV-positive people.
- Donors of semen, blood, plasma, or organs.
- Sexual partners of those infected with Hepatitis B.
- Victims of sexual assault.
- Inmates of correctional facilities.
These are just a few of the factors that could potentially expose you to Hepatitis B. If you believe you may have been exposed, or aren’t sure, it’s better to be safe than sorry. As said earlier, symptoms may not show for up to a couple years.
Some lifestyle choices may put you at higher risk than other possible exposures. Knowing the risks and symptoms of Hepatitis B can help protect you from infection.
Hepatitis B and Drug Use
One of the most high risk exposures to Hepatitis B comes from unsterile needle sticking and drug use. The CDC recommends that people who inject drugs be tested for Hepatitis B and C as part of routine medical care.
At New Roads Treatment Center we strongly believe that if you’re struggling with substance abuse and the use of drugs through injection, it’s in your best interest to be regularly tested.
When you’re using drugs by needle injection, you’re most likely needle sharing with others. Getting regularly tested is protecting not only yourself, but others from coming in contact with any form of hepatitis.
Attending a treatment center such as New Roads Health will improve the likelihood of recovery and reduce your risk of exposure to any Hepatitis strain, or help your recovery if already exposed to the virus.
If you have a substance abuse issue that is interfering with Hepatitis treatment, it might be time to contact a dedicated treatment provider and get the help you need today.
To determine if you are at risk for contracting Hepatitis, the CDC has created an online assessment tool to help you find out. They also have a list of locations to be screened for Hepatitis and other STDs, here.
While there currently isn’t a cure for Hepatitis B, it’s preventable with a series of vaccinations. Talk to your health-care provider or local health department about getting vaccinated. Some clinics offer free or low-cost hepatitis B vaccines.
The best thing you can do to protect yourself from contracting Hepatitis B, is to become knowledgeable on risk factors and limiting yourself to exposure.
Avoid drug use, or seek treatment to stop drug use. Make sure you and your sexual partners are tested regularly for HBV, or any other STDs. If someone close to you is infected with Hepatitis B, you should also be tested periodically.
As there are so many risk factors to contracting the virus, the best way to protect yourself is to be tested. Most cases of Hepatitis B will not require treatment. However, some patients will require hospitalization, especially if factors such as age and other medical conditions such as HIV/AIDS are present.
Professionals Are Here to Help
If you, or someone you know has recently been diagnosed with Hepatitis B, there are health care providers who can help. Getting treatment is usually needed to keep the virus from moving into the chronic stage.
Seeking treatment is especially needed if you’re suffering from addiction that has exposed you to the virus. Treatment centers and substance abuse specialists are fully equipped to help you stay sober during your Hepatitis B treatment.
At New Roads Treatment Center, we look forward to helping those with substance abuse and drug addiction find sobriety and protect themselves from harmful infections, such as Hepatitis B. Visit our website today to hear testimonials from those we have helped and get started on your personal journey to a healthier, happier life!