Hepatitis B is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus.
Most hepatitis B infections clear up, without treatment, within one to two months.
When the infection lasts more than six months, it can develop into chronic hepatitis B, which can lead to:
Hepatitis B is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV).
This virus is spread through contact with body fluids of an infected person, such as:
A woman infected with hepatitis B can pass the virus on to her baby during childbirth.
HBV cannot be spread by:
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.
Coming in contact with the blood or other body fluids of someone infected with hepatitis B increases your risk for infection. Unlike the hepatitis A virus, HBV is not spread through contaminated food or water.
The following situations may increase your risk of getting hepatitis B:
People at risk include:
Note: It is important that all pregnant women get a blood test for hepatitis B early in their pregnancy since the hepatitis B virus can be spread to babies during birth.
Hepatitis B symptoms usually appear within 25 to 180 days following exposure to the hepatitis B virus (HBV).
The most common symptoms are:
To diagnose hepatitis B, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam.
Tests may include:
If you are pregnant, have a blood test for hepatitis B.
If you are diagnosed as positive, be sure that your baby receives a vaccination called H-B-I-G, and the:
Your baby should also get a blood test at age 9 to 15 months to be sure he/she is protected.
The symptoms of hepatitis B can be treated with the following medicines:
People with uncomplicated cases can expect to recover completely.
Those who have chronic hepatitis B are treated with medicine to reduce the activity of the virus and prevent liver failure.
People with chronic hepatitis B should avoid anything that can further injure the liver, such as:
Before taking any of the above substances, discuss them with your doctor.
The hepatitis B virus (HBV) is spread through contact with body fluids of an infected person.
Hepatitis B can be prevented through vaccination, consisting of three injections over six-months. Protection is not complete without all three injections.
Anyone at increased risk for hepatitis B should be vaccinated.
In addition, to prevent the transmission of hepatitis B:
If you get a tattoo or body piercing, make sure the artist or piercer properly sterilizes the equipment. You might get infected if the tools have someone else's blood on them.
Health care and public safety workers should:
If you have chronic hepatitis B, you can prevent the spread of your infection by:
To schedule an appointment, or for more information, call the UPMC Liver Cancer Center, toll-free, at 1-855-745-4837.