Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is an inflammation of the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus. Left untreated, hepatitis B can become a serious, chronic condition that may permanently damage the liver.

Risk Factors of Hepatitis B

The hepatitis B infection is spread through the blood and other bodily fluids of an infected person and can be transmitted through some the following:

  • Sharing needles
  • Unprotected sexual contact with an infected person
  • Traveling to developing countries
  • Healthcare workers
  • Diabetic patients
  • Patients receiving dialysis
  • Childbirth
  • Living with an infected person

Symptoms of Hepatitis B

Many people with hepatitis B experience symptoms similar to the flu. Symptoms, which last for several weeks, may appear up to five months after infection. Some of these symptoms may include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Jaundice

Hepatitis B may clear completely from the body within six months, while others cases become a chronic condition. Children infected with hepatitis B are more likely to develop a chronic infection. If you are experiencing symptoms of hepatitis B or have been exposed to a situation in which you may have been infected, it is important to seek immediate medical attention.

Diagnosis of Hepatitis B

Diagnosis of hepatitis B is confirmed after a series of blood tests. A liver biopsy may also be performed, in a hospital or outpatient clinic, to confirm diagnosis of chronic hepatitis B.

Treatment of Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is treated with the following:

  • Rest
  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Increasing fluid intake
  • A healthy diet

Chronic hepatitis B is often treated with medication that requires monitoring for side effects. Severe cases of hepatitis B may require a liver transplant to replace a damaged liver.

Prevention of Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B can be prevented with a vaccine that provides protection. Other methods of preventing hepatitis B include the following:

  • Practicing safe sex
  • Proper hygiene
  • Avoid sharing personal items
  • Not sharing needles

Additional Resources


Virginia Cleaver, PharmD, M.S. in PGPM, RPh, CPh

Virginia Cleaver is a clinical pharmacist with experience working in retail, mail-order pharmacy, institutional and managed care environments. She is an analytical, detail-oriented expert with in-depth knowledge of pharmacovigilanc

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