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Viral Hepatitis B & C

What is it? Viral hepatitis (hep-uh-ti-tis) B and C is an infection that keeps the liver from working the way it should. There are many different types of hepatitis such as A, B, C, D, E, and G. There is no cure for hepatitis B or C, but there is treatment. It may be weeks or months before you feel better. Either disease may become a long-term health problem. Each year up to 320,000 people get hepatitis B and up to 242,000 get hepatitis C in the United States.

Causes: It is caused by a germ called a virus. Viral hepatitis B and C may be spread easily from person to person. You may get hepatitis B or C by having sex with an infected person. A pregnant woman with hepatitis B or C can pass the disease to her baby. You can get hepatitis by sharing dirty needles with drug use. Rarely, hepatitis may be gotten by getting a blood transfusion from an infected person. Sometimes it is not known how you got hepatitis.

Signs and Symptoms: You may have fever, nausea (upset stomach), vomiting (throwing up), or diarrhea (di-uh-ree-uh). Other signs may be tiredness early in the disease or loss of appetite. You may also have headaches or abdominal (belly) pain. Later you may have jaundice (jon-diss) which makes your eyes and skin look yellow. Your urine may be a darker yellow. Your BMs may be a light brown or light yellow color. Or you may have no symptoms at all.

Care: You will usually be treated at home. Resting and eating healthy food will help you get better. You should drink 8 (soda pop can size) glasses of water each day. But you may need to be put in the hospital for tests and treatment. You should not drink alcohol.

Care Agreement

Discuss your treatment options with your caregivers. You can work with them to decide which medicine and care will be used to treat your illness. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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