Hepatitis B is a liver disease. Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. Inflammation is the painful, red swelling that result when tissues of the body become injured or infected. Inflammation can cause organs to not work properly.
The hepatitis B virus causes hepatitis B. Viruses are germs that can cause sickness. For example, the flu is caused by a virus. People can pass viruses to each other. You could get hepatitis B from:
- Being born to a mother with hepatitis B
- Having sex with an infected person
- Being tattooed or pierced with unsterilized tools that were used on an infected person
- Getting an accidental needle stick with a needle that was used on an infected person
- Using an infected person’s razor or toothbrush
- Sharing drug needles with an infected person
- You could get hepatitis B from having sex with an infected person.
- You cannot get hepatitis B from
- Shaking hands with an infected person
- Hugging an infected person
- Sitting next to an infected person
Hepatitis B usually has no symptoms. Adults and children aged 5 and older sometimes have one or more of the following symptoms:
- Yellowish eyes and skin (jaundice)
- A longer than usual amount of time for bleeding to stop
- Swollen stomach or ankles
- Easy bruising
- Upset stomach
- Loss of appetite
- Light-colored stools
- Dark yellow urine
Hepatitis B is diagnosed through blood tests, which can also show if you have chronic hepatitis B or another type of hepatitis. Your doctor may suggest getting a liver biopsy if chronic hepatitis B is suspected. A liver biopsy is a test for liver damage.
Hepatitis B usually is not treated unless it becomes chronic. Chronic hepatitis B is treated with drugs that slow or stop the virus from damaging the liver. The length of treatment varies. Your doctor will help you decide which drug or drug combination is likely to work for you and will closely watch your symptoms to make sure treatment is working.