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Hepatitis B is a disease caused by a virus that infects the liver. It spreads through infected blood, semen, and other body fluids during sexual contact. It can be passed from mother to baby during childbirth. It also can spread when people share needles to inject drugs or share things that may have blood on them. These include razors and toothbrushes. Needles used for tattoos, body piercing, or acupuncture can spread the disease if they are not cleaned the right way.
After you get the virus, it may be months before you see symptoms. You may never notice them. You can give the disease to other people before and after you have symptoms.
Hepatitis B can make you tired. It can cause a fever, nausea, vomiting, light-coloured stools, and dark urine. Your skin or eyes may look yellow. This is called jaundice.
Most people get better in several weeks, but it can take several months. For some people the virus stays in their bodies (become chronically infected). If the virus stays in your body for a long time, it can cause serious liver disease. After you have had the virus and feel better, you will not get it again.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor now or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:
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Current as of: October 31, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Patrice Burgess MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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