What I Need To Know About Hepatitis B

    Doctor discussing an xray film with a patientHepatitis (HEP-ah-TY-tis) makes your liver swell and stops it from working right. You need a healthy liver. The liver does many things to keep you alive. The liver fights infections and stops bleeding. It removes drugs and other poisons from your blood. The liver also stores energy for when you need it.

    What causes hepatitis B?

    Hepatitis B is caused by a virus.

    A virus is a germ that causes sickness. (For example, the flu is caused by a
    virus.) People can pass viruses to each other. The virus that causes hepatitis B
    is called the hepatitis B virus.

    How could I get hepatitis B?

    Hepatitis B spreads by contact with an infected person’s blood, semen, or
    other body fluid.

    You could get hepatitis B by Illustration of a man and woman in bed.

    • having sex with an infected person without using a condom
    • sharing drug needles
    • having a tattoo or body piercing done with dirty tools that were used on
      someone else
    • getting pricked with a needle that has infected blood on it (health care
      workers can get hepatitis B this way)
    • living with someone who has hepatitis B
    • sharing a toothbrush or razor with an infected person
    • traveling to countries where hepatitis B is common

    An infected woman can give hepatitis B to her baby at birth or through her
    breast milk.

    You can NOT get hepatitis B by

    • shaking hands with an infected person
    • hugging an infected person
    • sitting next to an infected person

    What are the symptoms?

    Hepatitis B can make you feel like you have the flu.

    Illustration of a man in bed.

    You might

    • feel tired
    • feel sick to your stomach
    • have a fever
    • not want to eat
    • have stomach pain
    • have diarrhea

    Some people have

    • dark yellow urine
    • light-colored stools
    • yellowish eyes and skin

    Some people don’t have any
    symptoms.

    If you have symptoms or think you might have hepatitis B, go to a
    doctor.

    Doctor taking a blood sample from a woman's arm.
    The doctor will take some blood to check
    for hepatitis B.

    What are the tests for hepatitis B?

    To check for hepatitis B, the doctor will test your blood.

    These tests show if you have hepatitis B and how serious it is.

    The doctor may also do a liver biopsy.

    A biopsy (BYE-op-see) is a simple test. The doctor removes a tiny piece of
    your liver through a needle. The doctor checks the piece of liver for signs of
    hepatitis B and liver damage.

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