Hepatitis B Infection

Hepatitis B is a unique illness because chronic infection can lead to the development of liver cancer. Even though the majority of people who get this infection ultimately recover, those who are left with a chronic infection are at a high risk of developing liver failure and liver cancer. These serious complications make this infection an important one to prevent.

Most people who catch hepatitis B suffer no outward symptoms. However, the infection can remain dormant or it can lead to chronic liver infection that eventually causes the liver to fail. Some people can suffer jaundice, fatigue, nausea, and other vague symptoms when they first get this infection. Occasionally infected individuals can develop arthritis and a rash from the virus. Most people who harbor the virus have no idea that they are infected. Even though these infected people feel completely healthy, they can still pass the infection to others.

Fact

If you get hepatitis B as an adult, you will make a complete recovery more than 95 percent of the time. However, if your baby gets hepatitis B, she will develop liver failure and liver cancer more than 80 percent of the time. The immature immune system makes babies more vulnerable to hepatitis B infection.

Symptoms of Hepatitis B

The symptoms of hepatitis B can often take years to show. In fact, many people who have the disease do not know that they have it. Symptoms can include:

  • Extreme fatigue

  • Weight loss even though you weren't trying to; general loss of appetite

  • Jaundice (the skin or whites of the eyes may turn yellow)

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Headache

  • Excruciating pain in the belly (particularly on the right side where the liver is located)

  • Joint pain

  • Muscle aches

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