Hepatitis B is a
virus that infects the
liver. Most adults who get it have it for a
short time and then get better. This is called acute hepatitis B.
Sometimes the virus causes
a long-term infection, called chronic hepatitis B. Over time, it can damage
your liver. Babies and young children infected with the virus are more likely
to get chronic hepatitis B.
You can have hepatitis B and not know it. You may not have symptoms. If
you do, they can make you feel like you have the flu. But as long as you have
the virus, you can spread it to others.
It's caused by
the hepatitis B virus. It is spread through contact with the blood and body
fluids of an infected person.
You may get hepatitis B if
- Have sex with an infected person without
using a condom.
- Share needles (used for injecting drugs) with an
- Get a tattoo or piercing with tools that weren't
- Share personal items like razors or toothbrushes with
an infected person.
A mother who has the virus can pass it to her baby during
delivery. Medical experts recommend that all pregnant women get tested for hepatitis
B. If you have the virus, your baby can get shots to help prevent
infection with the virus.
You cannot get
hepatitis B from casual contact such as hugging, kissing, sneezing, coughing,
or sharing food or drinks.
Many people with hepatitis
B don't know they have it, because they don't have symptoms. If you do have
symptoms, you may just feel like you have the flu. Symptoms include:
- Feeling very tired.
- Not wanting to
- Feeling sick to your stomach or vomiting.
- Tan-colored bowel movements (stools).
- Dark urine.
- Yellowish eyes and skin (jaundice).
Jaundice usually appears only after other symptoms have started to go
Most people with chronic hepatitis B have no
A simple blood test
can tell your doctor if you have the hepatitis B virus now or if you had it in
the past. Your doctor also may be able to tell if you have had the vaccine to
prevent the virus.
If your doctor thinks you may have liver damage
from hepatitis B, he or she may use a needle to take a tiny sample of your
liver for testing. This is called a