Hepatitis B is a silent liver infection’ caused by the Hepatitis B Virus (HBV). It is transmitted in 3 main ways; through the spread of infected blood, via bodily fluids and from mother to child. You can fight of the infection within 6 months, however chronic Hepatitis B can lead to liver scarring, liver failure, liver cancer and death.
Symptoms of the infection are often witnessed between 1 and 6 months of an individual contracting the virus, nevertheless 30% of all individuals with Hepatitis B show no symptoms at all.
Bilirubin is a byproduct of the red blood cells and appears yellow in color. It is broken down by the liver; however when an individual has developed hepatitis B the liver no longer performs this function. As a result a person with hepatitis will experience the following jaundice symptoms; yellowing of the skin, whites of the eyes and area under the fingernails.
Additionally, your urine may have an orange or brown tint and your stool will be abnormally light in color- grayish. You may also experience itching of the skin. Jaundice symptoms will appear a few days after the first symptoms of Hepatitis B begin to appear.
An individual with Hepatitis B will face unexplained and persistent fatigue that can last for weeks and even months. One of the functions of the liver is to act as an energy store, but this function is impeded when you have Hepatitis B.
The liver stores a carbohydrate called glycogen which is made up of sugars, and breaks this down into glucose when extra energy is needed. This glucose is released into the bloodstream to give you an energy boost, however when you have this infection you no longer have a glucose store; leaving you feeling fatigued.
3. GASTROINTESTINAL SYMPTOMS
These varying symptoms include mild to severe loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting. Unfortunately for those who experience severe and prolonged gastrointestinal difficulties, additional symptoms may occur.
Dehydration attributed to protracted nausea and vomiting will lead to weakness, headaches, irritability, lack of urination and difficulty concentrating. Unfortunately these gastrointestinal symptoms often resemble the flu, and as a result they are ignored and termed as inconsequential.
Pain is usually experienced in two main areas; abdominal pains and muscle & joint pains. Abdominal pains are as a result of the inflammation of the liver. Individuals with this symptom will therefore feel tenderness over the location of the liver, which is located on the right side of your abdomen, below your lower rib cage.
Furthermore, an individual with Hepatitis B will experience mild arthritis (joint inflammation) and arthraglias (joint pain). It is believed that these two symptoms occur when antibodies formed to fight the hepatitis instead conflict with certain molecules found in the joint tissue.
If you are experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, immediately visit your doctor so that he/she can perform blood tests and a physical exam to determine whether you have contracted the virus.
There are several treatments, precautions and lifestyle changes that you can implement to fight off the infection and ensure you do not spread the virus.