Hepatitis Type B

You have been diagnosed with hepatitis B, also called HBV. Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. In your case, it is from an infection with the hepatitis B virus.


The most common causes of hepatitis are viruses. Alcohol and drug abuse, chemical toxins, and autoimmune disorders can also cause hepatitis.

When a virus causes hepatitis, it is called viral hepatitis. The hepatitis viruses A, B, and C commonly cause viral hepatitis. Other viral infections can also cause hepatitis, such as the viruses that cause mononucleosis and chicken pox.

What all the hepatic (liver) viruses have in common is that once they are transmitted to you, they infect the liver and then cause inflammation (hepatitis). The different viruses are spread in different ways, but all of them can affect your health over a long time. Possible complications include cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver failure.

HBV is the most common cause of acute (short-term) viral hepatitis. HBV is commonly spread through contact with the body fluids of an infected person, exposure to contaminated blood or needles, unprotected sex with an infected person, or from an infected mother to baby.

Avoiding these common routes of infection is the best way to prevent the spread of HBV.


Many people with HBV have either mild symptoms or no symptoms when they are first infected. Often this is also the case for many years afterwards. However, hepatitis can cause damage to your liver. It can become chronic in some people. Symptoms usually last 1 to 3 months in the early stages. Symptoms can include:

  • Tiredness, fatigue, or weakness

  • Low-grade fever

  • Loss of appetite

  • Upset stomach, nausea, or vomiting

  • Abdominal pain

  • Dark-colored urine

  • Light-colored or pale stool

  • Yellow color of the skin or eyes (jaundice)

Home care

  • A diet low in saturated fats and high in fruits and vegetables is best for you and your liver. Have small, frequent meals if you experience nausea.

  • If you are having symptoms of hepatitis, you may fatigue easily. Get lots of rest. Don't exert yourself too much.

  • Acetaminophen and anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen can be toxic to the liver in high doses, with prolonged use, or in the presence of existing liver damage.

    • If you have hepatitis, you should not take these medicines until you talk about them with your healthcare provider.

    • If you have only mild or no liver damage from chronic hepatitis, you may take acetaminophen in low doses (2 grams per 24 hours). Do not take anti-inflammatory medicines. Never take acetaminophen with alcohol, since this increases the risk of liver damage.

  • Alcohol stresses the liver. People with hepatitis should avoid it.

Preventing the spread of hepatitis

  • This virus is present in the blood and body fluids. It can be spread through sexual contact. Inform your partner and use condoms when you have sex until the virus has been eliminated from your system. Condoms may lower the risk of spreading the virus, but they are not a guarantee

  • Never share needles, syringes, tattoo equipment, snorting straws, razors, or toothbrushes.

  • Do not attempt to donate blood.

  • If you require medical or dental care, inform the staff that you have hepatitis so that extra care may be taken to avoid spread of the infection.

  • If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, notify your physician. Hepatitis can be transmitted to the unborn baby.

  • People who are exposed to you in any of the ways described in the Causes section above should contact their healthcare provider or the local public health department as soon as possible. This is so they can be tested and receive immunization. A vaccine can be given up to 2 weeks after a person is exposed.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised, to be sure that you are doing well and do not have any complications. It is possible to become a chronic carrier of HBV. If this happens, you could infect others even though you no longer feel ill. Only a blood test can identify this condition. This makes it important to have a follow-up exam.

If X-rays, a CT scan, or an ultrasound were done, they will be reviewed by a specialist. You will be notified of the results, especially if they affect treatment.

Call 911

Call emergency services right away if any of these occur:

  • Trouble breathing or swallowing, wheezing

  • Confusion

  • Extreme drowsiness or trouble awakening

  • Fainting or loss of consciousness

  • Rapid heart rate

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Frequent vomiting

  • Weight loss from poor appetite

  • Increase in abdominal pain or swelling

  • Increasing drowsiness or confusion

  • Weakness or dizziness

  • New or increasing yellow color of skin or eyes

  • Bleeding from the gums or nose or easy bruising

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© 2000-2017 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.