Hepatitis – Better Test Than Sorry

As a potential cause of liver cancer, hepatitis B and hepatitis C are not to be taken lightly. While often difficult to diagnose, there are several ways that you can combat this dangerous disease and avoid further harm. Here’s your guide to obtaining hepatitis B and C test kits, as well as treatments that you can receive after viewing your hepatitis B and C test results.

Hepatitis B Vs C

Hepatitis B is the world’s most common liver infection. Transmitted via blood-to-blood contact, it is significantly more common than hepatitis C and is a higher cause of liver-related cancer and deaths. What’s more, hepatitis B is also estimated to be between 5-10% more infectious than its counterpart.

While hepatitis B is typically spread from mother to child at birth, hepatitis C is transmitted in various ways, including the sharing of needles, the transfusion of blood, and sexual activities. While hepatitis B can also be spread through these means, this occurs on a less frequent basis than is the case with hepatitis C. Fortunately, both strains of hepatitis can be identified through administered tests. But how do you know whether or not you should take a hepatitis test?

Symptoms

Below are several symptoms that could suggest that you may have hepatitis: 

  • Hepatitis B

Signs of hepatitis B include abdominal pain, dark urine, a fever, joint pain, nausea, fatigue, and the yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes.

  • Hepatitis C

The incubation period for a hepatitis C infection can be anywhere between two weeks and six months. While symptoms are rarely present at the time of the initial infection, some may indeed arise, such as dark urine, fatigue, a fever, grey-colored feces, and jaundice.

Getting Tested

  • Hepatitis B Test Kits

There are three tests that can identify whether or not you have hepatitis B. The first hepatitis B test procedure is a blood test. This useful method can detect signs of hepatitis B in your body and even inform your doctor on whether it’s acute or chronic. What’s more, a blood test can reveal if you are immune to hepatitis B.

A liver ultrasound (called transient elastography in the medical field will enable doctors to determine how much liver damage has been caused. The third option, a liver biopsy, involved the doctor removing a small piece of your liver to test it for liver damage. This test is administered by inserting a needle into your skin and removing a small piece of tissue.

  • Hepatitis C Test Kits

This strain of hepatitis is also diagnosed by means of a blood test. Once the hepatitis C test result comes back positive, additional blood tests can be administered to determine the quantity of this virus in your blood as well as the genotype, which assists in terms of determining the best treatment plan.

Just like hepatitis B, the liver damage caused by hepatitis C can be determined through a liver ultrasound or a liver biopsy.

Treatment

  • Hepatitis B

Your best defense against hepatitis B is to get vaccinated before you even contract this virus. If you are experiencing symptoms and have not yet been vaccinated, your doctor may administer an immunoglobulin (antibody) injection which should help to prevent getting sick if you were exposed within the last 12 hours. Other long-term treatments include antiviral medications, which fight the virus and slow down liver damage, interferon injections, and as a last resort, a liver transplant. 

  • Hepatitis C

Unlike hepatitis B, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C. Fortunately, antiviral medications may help to clear the virus from your body. Patients who have developed serious complications may require a liver transplant, however, it is important to note that the virus may return in some form even after the transplant is successfully completed.

Conclusion

While contracting hepatitis may seem like a daunting experience, you can take comfort in the knowledge that there are several ways to test for whether or not you have this disease. If your test does come back positive, your doctor should be able to recommend an effective treatment plan based on your personal needs.