What is Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis means the inflammation of the liver and viral hepatitis are diseases that affect the liver.  The most common  types of hepatitis are A, B, and C.  Each type of hepatitis has different causes and symptoms.  Let’s look at hepatitis B in detail.


The hepatitis B virus (HBV) is very similar to the hepatitis A symptoms, but if left untreated, can lead to chronic illness and permanent damage to the liver.  HBV is very common with over 350 million people infected.

How is Hepatitis B Transmitted?

The hepatitis B infection can be transmitted by coming into contact with an infected person’s blood, semen, vagina, or other body fluids.

Examples of how HBV is spread includes:

  • Having unprotected penetrative sex without a condom (anal, vaginal, or oral sex) with an infected person.
  • Sharing needles with an infected person.
  • Getting a tattoo or acupuncture with unclean needles.
  • Sharing personal care items such as a razor or toothbrush with an infected person.
  • A mother with HBV spreading it to her baby during childbirth.


Individuals who are infected with hepatitis B may or may not experience symptoms.  However, regardless if no symptoms are present, the infected person can still spread the virus.  People who have symptoms may experience:

  • Mild, flu like symptoms
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Jaundice (yellow skin)
  • Itchy Skin

Most adult that are infected with hepatitis B fully recover in a few weeks to a few months.  A small percentage of adult cannot fully get rid of the HBV virus, in which they become chronic carriers  This happens only between 2% and 10% of adults and means that they can spread the virus to other people. If a person lives with HBV for a number of years, it can lead to chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis of the liver, and liver cancer.


A doctor may perform a variety of tests to see if the infection was from the past or current infections.  Blood work may be done to test your liver functions and other levels.


Individuals who test positive with acute hepatitis B will typically not require any treatment beside bed rest and drinking a lot of fluids.  The infected person will have their liver monitored and other body functions with blood work.  In extreme and rare cancers that you develop liver failure, a liver transplant will be required. Patients who have chronic hepatitis may be treated with antiviral mediations.  Patients who have chronic hepatitis should not drink alchol, avoid fatty foods,  and consult with doctor before taking any over the counter medications or supplements. The use of a condom is very important to prevent the spread of the virus.  Get the vaccine if you are engaging in sexual activity with an infected person, if you know that you have not been infected.


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