Hepatitis B Symptoms in Women

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Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver marked by inflammation and caused by a virus known as type B. the disease is transmitted by exposure to blood or other bodily fluids of an infected person. While major methods of transmission of Hepatitis B like sexual or household contact with an infected person, exchange of infected needles or blood during transfusion are alike for men and women, the latter are capable of spreading the infection to their unborn children during pregnancy. The following are the most symptoms of Hepatitis B in women.

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Flu-like symptoms

The very first symptoms of Hepatitis B may feel as though they have nothing to do with the liver. It is common for women to experience fatigue, pain in the joints or muscles and run a fever, in effect very much when you come down with the flu.
 

Digestive upset

Since one of the main functions of the liver is to ensure proper digestion of foods, one of earliest signs of a Hepatitis B infection may be related to a disturbed digestive system. Thus a woman may feel nauseous and significantly lose her appetite. She may also experience vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain on the lower right side which is probably because of an inflamed liver. Upon physical examination, the liver will also feel enlarged.
 

Jaundice

A woman may first start thinking that her affliction is more than a mere stomach flu when she notices her skin and the white of her eyes taking on a yellowish tinge. This is known as jaundice and is caused by the accumulation of bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is a by-product of the destruction of old red blood cells and is supposed to be cleaned up by the liver. But when diseased, the liver is no longer able to carry on this function at its usual pace and this results in higher levels of bilirubin in the body which is then apparent as yellowish skin or sclera.
 

Other changes in color

In acute phases of Hepatitis B, a woman may pass urine that is darker colored than usual even to the extent of being cola-colored. Stools on the other hand may take on a lighter, clay-colored appearance. This is because the body is tries to shed the virus through stools.

Women suffering from both acute and chronic types of Hepatitis B can display various degrees of the above symptoms. The symptoms can take anything from nine to twenty-one weeks to appear after first exposure to infection. Sometimes the symptoms remain so mild and general like those for flu that presence of Hepatitis B is not even suspected unless confirmed by diagnostic tests. In the self-limiting cases, the symptoms remain for about six months after which they disappear on their own.

While in most cases Hepatitis B, even the acute form is self-limited, sometimes the body is unable to clear the virus on its own and thus goes on to develop chronic Hepatitis B. This is cause of worry since the chronic form can lead to other complications and even death if left untreated.

Inflammation due to chronic Hepatitis B may lead to cirrhosis or the scarring of liver. In this case the patient may exhibit the usual symptoms like fatigue, nausea and weight loss but in severe cases women can display rash on the palms, difficulty with blood clotting as well as spider-like blood vessels on the skin.
 

Partly why Hepatitis B is dangerous is because it can quickly deteriorate and lead to liver failure. In women this may reveal itself as sudden unexplained weight gain, fluid retention especially in the legs known as edema and in the belly known as ascites. In some cases there may also be blood in vomit as well as bleeding from orifices such as the nose and rectum. All these are signs that the liver is failing fast and requires emergency medical care.

An extreme form of complication arising out of hepatitis is known as fulminant hepatitis. This may begin with fatigue and nausea but then progress quickly symptoms of acute Hepatitis B. After around two weeks of the onset of jaundice, encephalopathy develops which is usually a distinctive sign of fulminant hepatitis. In its mild form, encephalopathy causes short term memory loss, changes in sleep pattern, slurring of speech and small behavioral changes. In its severe form however, the patient may experience significant memory loss like forgetting the date, year, her name or address, confusion, inappropriate behavior, poor coordination, asterixis which is an uncontrollable flapping of the hands as well as fetor hepaticus or foul smelling breath. All these may lead to coma and even death if immediate medical care is not provided.

Since it is very likely that a woman despite being infected with Hepatitis B may reveal only minor or even no symptoms at all, all pregnant women should be screened for the disease. This will ensure that woman or the newborn can receive proper treatment in order to prevent the baby from developing the disease in the neonatal stage.