Hepatitis B and C
Hepatitis B and C may or may not cause symptoms. Chronic forms of these diseases can result in life-threatening medical complications and death. In some cases, medications can slow progression of the disease. A liver transplant is the only permanent treatment for total liver failure. There is a vaccine to prevent Hepatitis B. There is not a vaccine to prevent Hepatitis C.
Your liver is divided into right and left lobes. It is further divided into smaller lobes called the caudate and quadrate lobes. The right lobe is the largest part of your liver.
The hepatic artery is the second source of blood supply to the liver. Blood delivered through the hepatic artery comes directly from the heart. It is higher in oxygen than blood from the portal vein. Once inside the liver, blood from the portal vein and the hepatic artery mix. The blood flows through tiny blood vessels in the liver called sinusoids. Components in the blood are delivered by the sinusoids to the hepatocytes.
Hepatocytes are the major cell type in the liver. The hepatocytes metabolize nutrients, toxins, and drugs from the blood. Blood leaves the liver through the hepatic vein. The blood flows through the vena cava and back to the heart.
There is a vaccination to prevent hepatitis B, but not hepatitis C. People at risk for exposure to hepatitis B should receive the vaccination to prevent development of the disease. If you are a healthcare worker, public safety worker, or family caregiver of a loved one with hepatitis, use routine barrier precautions when handling blood and body fluids and safe methods for handling needles and sharps.
Be cautious about receiving tattoos or body piercing. Ask questions to find out about the health and sterilization practices of the facility. Avoid “home” tattoo or piercing methods.
Am I at Risk
Risk factors may increase your likelihood of developing hepatitis B or C. People with all of the risk factors may never develop hepatitis; however, the chance of developing the condition increases with the more risk factors you have. You should tell your doctor about your risk factors and discuss your concerns.
Hepatitis B and C is transmitted from the blood or body fluid of an infected person to an uninfected person. Blood or body fluid contact is possible in several situations. Risk factors for contracting Hepatitis B and C:
_____ Healthcare workers including doctors, nurses, dentists, family caregivers, and public safety personnel are at risk from fluid contact or needle sticks during their job duties.
_____ Virus transmission can occur during unsafe sex with an infected person. Using a latex condom may help reduce transmission.
_____ People with multiple sex partners, people with sexually transmitted diseases, people who participate in oral/anal sex, and men who have sex with men have a higher risk of contracting hepatitis B and C.
_____ Sharing needles, syringes, or water during injected street drug use (“shooting up”) can spread hepatitis B and C.
_____ People that received blood transfusions, blood products, or organ donations that were not screened for hepatitis have a risk of contracting the conditions.
_____ People that receive kidney dialysis, particularly those that have been on long term kidney dialysis, may be at risk for getting hepatitis B and C
_____ Sharing razors, nail clippers, toothbrushes, and other personnel care items can spread hepatitis B and C.
_____ Tattoo, body piercing, and acupuncture procedures can spread hepatitis B and C if the needles, instruments, and other supplies are contaminated.
_____ A mother can transmit hepatitis B and C to her baby during childbirth.
Fluid loss associated with nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite can lead to dehydration. Dehydration can be severe and life threatening. Dehydration causes sleepiness, thirst, and dry mouth. It can produce a lack of tears and urine production. Older adults with dehydration may experience behavior changes and confusion. Their skin may appear to be loose. Consult your doctor if you or your loved one experiences signs of dehydration.
If you test positive for hepatitis C, ask your doctor about being tested for hepatitis B and other diseases that can be transmitted in a similar fashion. You should talk to your doctor about being tested for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Some people at risk for hepatitis C may also be at risk for contracting HIV.
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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.
The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on February 16, 2022. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.