Hepatitis B is a liver infection. It is caused by the hepatitis B virus. The virus can be spread:
People who handle blood may become infected with the virus. For example, health care workers may get the virus when they treat an infected person.
A mother who has the virus can pass it to her baby during delivery. If you are pregnant and think you may have been exposed to hepatitis B, get tested. If you have the virus, your baby can get shots to help prevent getting the virus.
You can't get hepatitis B from casual contact such as hugging, kissing, sneezing, coughing, or sharing food or drinks.
Most adults who get hepatitis B have it for a short time and then get better. This is the acute form of the disease. Sometimes the disease lasts a long time. This is the chronic form. Over time, chronic hepatitis B can damage your liver.
After you have had hepatitis B and recovered, you will not get it again.
Most people who get hepatitis B do not have symptoms. If you have symptoms, they usually start to go away in 2 to 3 weeks. Symptoms may include:
You can get hepatitis B or give it to other people both before and after you have symptoms.
Ask your doctor if you need the hepatitis B vaccine. People who may need it include those who inject drugs, have many sex partners, or are likely to be exposed to body fluids (such as health care workers).
To avoid spreading hepatitis B if you have it or to avoid getting it:
If you think you have been exposed to the hepatitis B virus, talk to your doctor. Getting a shot of hepatitis B immunoglobulin (HBIG) and the first of three shots of hepatitis B vaccine may help prevent the disease.
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 call line 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.
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
Enter K821 in the search box to learn more about "Learning About Hepatitis B".
Current as of: March 3, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & A. Evan Eyler, MD, MPH - Family Medicine, Psychiatry
©2006-2017 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
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.