Hepatitis B

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Overview

Hepatitis B is a vaccine-preventable liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Hepatitis B is spread when blood, semen, or other body fluids from a person infected with the virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. This can happen through sexual contact; sharing needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment; or from mother to baby at birth. Not all people newly infected with HBV have symptoms, but for those that do, symptoms can include fatigue, poor appetite, stomach pain, nausea, and jaundice. For many people, hepatitis B is a short-term illness. For others, it can become a long-term, chronic infection that can lead to serious, even life-threatening health issues like cirrhosis or liver cancer. Risk for chronic infection is related to age at infection: about 90% of infants with hepatitis B go on to develop chronic infection, whereas only 2%–6% of people who get hepatitis B as adults become chronically infected. The best way to prevent hepatitis B is to get vaccinated.

Symptoms

Abdominal pain.

Dark urine.

Fever.

Joint pain.

Loss of appetite.

Nausea and vomiting.

Weakness and fatigue.

Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)

Causes

Hepatitis B spreads through contact with blood, semen or other body fluids from an infected person. Your risk of hepatitis B infection increases if you: Have unprotected sex with multiple sex partners or with someone who's infected with HBV. Share needles during IV drug use.

Risk factors

Infants born to mothers with hepatitis B.

People who inject drugs or share needles, syringes, and other types of drug equipment.

Sex partners of people with hepatitis B.

Men who have sex with men.

People who live with someone who has hepatitis B.

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Complications

Having a chronic HBV infection can lead to serious complications, such as: Scarring of the liver (cirrhosis). The inflammation associated with a hepatitis B infection can lead to extensive liver scarring (cirrhosis), which may impair the liver's ability to function. Liver cancer.

Cirrhosis of the Liver. Extensive fibrosis is called cirrhosis. ...

Cancer of the Liver. Liver cancer is a complication of cirrhosis. ...

Liver Failure. ...

Glomerulonephritis. ...

Cryoglobulinemia. ...

Hepatic Encephalopathy. ...

Portal Hypertension. ...

Porphyria.

Prevention

Hepatitis B infection can be prevented by getting vaccine and HBIG (hepatitis B immune globulin) soon after coming into contact with the virus. Persons who have recently been exposed to HBV should get HBIG and vaccine as soon as possible and preferably within 24 hours, but not more than 2 weeks after the exposure.