Hepatitis B and C are two common forms of liver infections. Although both viruses can cause serious health problems, there are significant differences between them. In this blog post, we’ll cover some common questions about Hepatitis B, including symptoms, transmission and treatment – as well as preventive measures you can take to protect yourself. If you’re interested in learning about Hepatitis C, you can view our article on that here.
What is Hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is a potentially dangerous yet preventable infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). HBV spreads through contact with bodily fluids, like blood or semen, from an infected person to someone who does not have HBV. Contact can occur during sexual intercourse, injection drug use, and even pregnancy in some cases. New carriers may experience symptoms such as exhaustion, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, and nausea. They may also experience yellowing skin (jaundice).
For many people, hepatitis B is a short-term illness. For others, it can become a long-term, chronic infection that can lead to serious, even life-threatening health issues like cirrhosis or liver cancer. Risk for chronic infection is related to age at infection: about 90% of infants with hepatitis B go on to develop chronic infection, whereas only 2%–6% of people who get hepatitis B as adults become chronically infected.
How common is Hepatitis B?
According to the CDC, an estimated 350 million people across the globe suffer from Hepatitis B, with around 1.2 million cases in just the United States alone. This type of viral hepatitis is among one of the most widespread medical conditions globally. Most people infected with Hepatitis B were infected either at birth or in their childhood. As there may not be any symptoms present, most are unaware that they even have the virus and, as a result, they often spread it to others without even realizing.
What are the symptoms of Hepatitis B?
Common symptoms of hepatitis B include fever, fatigue, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), dark urine, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. These symptoms may show up six weeks to six months after exposure, but sometimes symptoms are not noticeable for up to 30 years in extreme cases.
Some infected people do not present any symptoms and never know they carry the virus. For this reason, regular blood tests are important, as they can detect the presence of the virus even when there are no physical symptoms. If you’re ready to get tested, schedule an appointment at one of our clinics here.
Is Hepatitis B dangerous?
Yes, especially if it is left untreated. As time passes, between 15-25% of individuals with chronic Hepatitis B can develop severe issues related to their liver, including cirrhosis, liver failure and even cancer. Each year in the United States alone, over 3 thousand people succumb to Hepatitis B affiliated complications.
How do I protect myself from Hepatitis B?
According to the CDC, the best way to protect yourself from Hepatitis B is by getting vaccinated. The vaccine is available free of charge for all adults and children. Besides vaccination, you can help protect yourself against HBV infection by practicing safe sex and proper hygiene. That means avoiding sexual contact with someone who has the virus, using a condom during sex, never sharing needles or other injection drug equipment, washing your hands often, and avoiding contact with blood or body fluids of those that may be infected with HBV.
What should I do if I think I have Hepatitis B?
If you think you may have contracted Hepatitis B, you should get tested right away. At RealOptions Obria Medical Clinics, we know that your health and safety are important, which is why we provide testing for Hepatitis B. If you’d like testing done, schedule an appointment here.
How is testing done for Hepatitis B?
Our testing process for Hepatitis B is simple and straightforward. RealOptions Obria Medical Clinics has partnered with Quest Diagnostics for lab work, such as that required for Hepatitis B testing. We will provide you with the required lab requisition on your first visit with us. Depending on the lab results, we may recommend follow-up testing or further consultation. At RealOptions, our caring and knowledgeable team is here for you to answer any questions you may have about our testing process or about Hepatitis B. Please don’t hesitate in reaching out. We are more than happy to provide you with the care, information, and resources you need.
How is Hepatitis B treated?
The treatment for Hepatitis B depends on the stage of your infection. If you are diagnosed with acute hepatitis B, you may not need any specific treatment. However, if it appears that the virus has become chronic, you will likely be prescribed antiviral medications to help reduce symptoms and slow down the progression of the virus.
Does Medi-Cal cover testing and treatment for Hepatitis B?
RealOptions Obria Medical Clinics is a Medi-Cal provider, which means our testing services for Hepatitis B performed by Quest Diagnostics are covered by Medi-cal. If you test positive for Hepatitis B, RealOptions will refer you to your county health department for specialized treatment.
Not familiar with Medi-Cal? It is low-cost or no-cost health insurance for those living in California that meet certain eligibility requirements. If you have a Medi-Cal plan, you can get tested at RealOptions for Hepatitis B and other infections, such as STDs/STIs, with no or low cost to you.
If you are unsure if you qualify for Medi-Cal coverage, don’t worry! There are a few simple ways to find out if you can enroll:
- Contact MCAP at (800) 433-2611.
- Call Covered California at (800) 300-1506.
- Apply online at CoveredCA.com. via email with a confirmation or notification for the best available time.
I’m ready to get tested for Hepatitis B. How do I do that?
You’re making a great decision! Schedule an appointment for testing at one of our locations today or call:
400 30th St #401
Oakland, CA 94609
801 Brewster Ave Unit 21
Redwood City, CA 94063
1671 The Alameda #101
San Jose, CA
12 N White Rd
San Jose, CA
33523 Western Ave.
Union City, CA 94857
Medical information provided by the CDC: