Mild fever, headache, stomach pain, fatigue, vomiting – at first glance, the symptoms of hepatitis B sound an awful lot like symptoms of the flu. And actually, some people with hepatitis B don’t show any symptoms at all. But, since this virus affects the liver and can be dangerous if left untreated, it’s important to understand the causes and symptoms of Hepatitis B so that you know when to see a doctor for a diagnosis.
Unlike the flu, which can be spread by just coming into contact with someone who has it, you can only get hepatitis B if you are exposed to the blood or body fluids of an infected person.
Some of the ways hepatitis B can spread include:
- Unprotected sexual contact with an infected person
- Sharing needles with an infected person
- Getting a piercing or tattoo with needles that haven’t been sterilized
- From mother to baby during delivery
The majority of people who get hepatitis B have acute hepatitis B, meaning they catch the virus and are better within a few months. However, some people – particularly babies and children – may develop chronic hepatitis B, which occurs when a person tests positive for the virus for more than six months after their initial diagnosis. Thankfully, people with chronic hepatitis B can take medication to keep the virus from causing more damage to their liver.
If you think you may have come into contact with the hepatitis B virus – or if you are showing symptoms – it’s important to get checked out by a professional. Since only a simple blood test is needed to diagnose hepatitis B, an urgent care is a great place to go.