About Hepatitis B
Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. It can be caused by certain drugs, heavy alcohol use, bacterial infections, viral infections, toxins and other diseases. Hepatitis B ranges in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a very serious, lifelong illness.
Hepatitis B is spread when blood, semen or other bodily fluid infected with Hepatitis B enters the body of a person who is not infected. The disease can be spread at birth, through sexual intercourse, by sharing needles or razors, and through direct contact with blood or open sores.
In the United States alone, it’s estimated that up to 1.4 million people have chronic hepatitis B.
Who Should Get the Hepatitis B Vaccine?
If you’re an adult, you should receive hepatitis vaccine if:
- You have intercourse with or live in the same household as a person with hepatitis B virus infection, or have intercourse with multiple partners.
- You inject drugs.
- You have a job that involves contact with human blood.
- You are on the staff of, or a client in, an institution for the developmentally disabled.
- You are a hemodialysis patient or have end-stage renal disease.
- You are a man who has intercourse with other men.
- You have HIV infection.
- You have chronic liver disease.
- You have diabetes and are under 60 years old.
- You live in or travel to countries where hepatitis B is common.
Children and adolescents under the age of 18 who haven’t been vaccinated can also receive the vaccine.
Important Facts about the Hepatitis B Vaccine
- Hepatitis B vaccine may be given by itself or in the same shot as other vaccines.
- Since 1990, new incidents of hepatitis B infections in children and adolescents have dropped by more than 95% — and by 75% in other age groups.
- Anyone with a life-threatening allergy to yeast, or to any other component of the vaccine, should not receive the hepatitis B vaccine.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Hepatitis B
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Dark urine
- Clay-colored bowel movements
- Joint pain
- Jaundice (yellow color in the skin or eyes)
If you think you may have hepatitis B, consult a physician for prompt diagnosis and treatment. MedSpring offers the hepatitis B vaccine from 8am-8pm, 7 days a week. Walk-ins are welcome or call ahead to make an appointment.
Source: Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Disease Control. www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/b.