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Hepatitis B in details

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What Is Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is an infection of your liver. It can cause scarring of the organ, liver failure, and cancer. It can be fatal if it isn’t treated.
It’s spread when people come in contact with the blood, open sores, or body fluids of someone who has the hepatitis B virus.
It's serious, but if you get the disease as an adult, it shouldn’t last a long time. Your body fights it off within a few months, and you’re immune for the rest of your life. That means you can't get it again. But if you get it at birth, it’ unlikely to go away.

What Are the Symptoms of Hepatitis B?

When you’re first infected, the warning signs include:
  • Jaundice. (Your skin or the whites of the eyes turn yellow, and your pee turns brown or orange.)
  • Light-colored poop
  • Fever
  • Fatigue that persists for weeks or months
  • Stomach trouble like loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting
  • Belly pain
Symptoms may not show up until 1 to 6 months after you catch the virus. You might not feel anything. About a third of the people who have this disease don’t. They only find out through a blood test.

What Causes Hepatitis B?

It’s caused by the hepatitis B virus.

How Do You Get Hepatitis B?

The most common ways to get hepatitis B include:
  • Sex. You can get it if you have unprotected sex with someone who has it and your partner’s blood, saliva, semen, or vaginal secretions enter your body.
  • Sharing needles. The virus spreads easily via needles and syringes contaminated with infected blood.
  • Accidental needle sticks. Health care workers and anyone else who comes in contact with human blood can get it this way.
  • Mother to child. Pregnant women with hepatitis B can pass it to their babies during childbirth. But there’s a vaccine to prevent newborns from becoming infected.

How Common Is Hepatitis B?

The number of people who get this disease is down, the CDC says. Rates have dropped from an average of 200,000 per year in the 1980s to around 20,000 in 2016. People between the ages of 20 and 49 are most likely to get it.
Only 5% to 10% of adults and children older than 5 who have hepatitis B end up with a chronic infection. The numbers aren’t so good for those younger than 5 (25% to 50%) and even higher for infants infected at birth (90%).
As many as 1.4 million people in the U.S. are carriers of the virus.
How Is Hepatitis B Diagnosed?If your doctor thinks you have it, he’ll give you a complete physical exam. He’ll test your blood to see if your liver is inflamed. If you have hepatitis B symptoms and high levels of liver enzymes, you’ll be tested for:

What Are the Complications of Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B and Pregnancy

How Do You Prevent Hepatitis B From Spreading?

Can I Get It From Blood Transfusions?

Who Should Get the Hepatitis B Vaccine?

Is Hepatitis B Curable?

What’s the Prognosis for Hepatitis B?

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