Hepatitis B is a liver disease. Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. Inflammation is the painful, red swelling that results when tissues of the body become injured or infected. Inflammation can cause organs to not work properly. Hepatitis B is diagnosed and treated by the GI Division of Premier medical Group.
The liver is an organ that does many important things.
You cannot live without a liver.
The hepatitis B virus causes hepatitis B. Viruses are germs that can cause sickness. For example, the flu is caused by a virus. People can pass viruses to each other.
Anyone can get hepatitis B, but some people are at higher risk, including
You could get hepatitis B through contact with an infected person’s blood, semen, or other body fluid.
You could get hepatitis B from
You cannot get hepatitis B from
Hepatitis B usually has no symptoms. Adults and children ages 5 and older sometimes have one or more of the following symptoms:
Hepatitis B is chronic when the body can’t get rid of the hepatitis B virus. Children, especially infants, are more likely to get chronic hepatitis B, which usually has no symptoms until signs of liver damage appear. Without treatment, chronic hepatitis B can cause scarring of the liver, called cirrhosis; liver cancer; and liver failure.
Symptoms of cirrhosis include
Hepatitis B is diagnosed through blood tests, which can also show if you have chronic hepatitis B or another type of hepatitis.
Your doctor may suggest getting a liver biopsy if chronic hepatitis B is suspected. A liver biopsy is a test for liver damage. The doctor uses a needle to remove a tiny piece of liver, which is then looked at with a microscope.
Hepatitis B usually is not treated unless it becomes chronic.
Chronic hepatitis B is treated with drugs that slow or stop the virus from damaging the liver. The length of treatment varies. Your doctor will help you decide which drug or drug combination is likely to work for you and will closely watch your symptoms to make sure treatment is working.
Drugs given by shots include
Drugs taken by mouth include
A liver transplant may be necessary if chronic hepatitis B causes liver failure. Liver transplantation surgery replaces a failed liver with a healthy one from a donor. Medicines taken after surgery can prevent hepatitis B from coming back.
You can avoid getting hepatitis B by getting the hepatitis B vaccine.
Vaccines are medicines that keep you from getting sick. Vaccines teach your body to attack specific germs. The hepatitis B vaccine teaches your body to attack the hepatitis B virus.
Adults at higher risk of getting hepatitis B and all children should get the vaccine. The hepatitis B vaccine is given through three shots over a period of several months. There is no minimum age for vaccination. The second shot should be given at least 1 month after the first, and the last shot should be given at least 2 months after the second shot but no sooner than 4 months after the first. The hepatitis B vaccine is safe for pregnant women.
You need all three shots to be fully protected. If you are traveling to a country where hepatitis B is common, try to get all the shots before you go. If you don’t have time to get all the shots before you go, get as many as you can. One shot may provide some protection against the virus.
You can also protect yourself and others from hepatitis B if you
See your doctor right away if you think you have been exposed to the hepatitis B virus. The first shot of the hepatitis B vaccine taken with a medicine called hepatitis B immune globulin may prevent you from getting sick.
If you are at higher risk of hepatitis B, get tested. Many people do not know they are infected. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent liver damage.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) conducts and supports basic and clinical research into many digestive disorders, including hepatitis B. NIDDK scientists are researching better strategies for using antiviral medicines to treat hepatitis B.
Participants in clinical trials can play a more active role in their own health care, gain access to new research treatments before they are widely available, and help others by contributing to medical research. For information about current studies, visit www.ClinicalTrials.gov.
Other types of hepatitis exist. The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC) also has booklets about hepatitis A and hepatitis C:
You can get a free copy of each booklet by calling 1–800–891–5389, by going online to www.catalog.niddk.nih.gov, or by writing to
2 Information Way
Bethesda, MD 20892–3570
Hepatitis information for health professionals is also available.
Publications produced by the Clearinghouse are carefully reviewed by both NIDDK scientists and outside experts. The individuals listed here provided editorial guidance or facilitated field-testing for the original version of this publication. The NDDIC would like to thank these individuals for their contribution.
Bruce Bacon, M.D.
American Liver Foundation
New York, NY
Theo Heller, M.D.
NIDDK, National Institutes of Health
Luby Garza-Abijaoude, M.S., R.D., L.D.
Texas Department of Health
Thelma Thiel, R.N.
Hepatitis Foundation International
Cedar Grove, NJ