Hepatitis B Symptoms & Causes
Table of Contents
- Written by Hannah Kingston - Updated on September 7, 2021
- Medically reviewed by Dr Andrea Pinto Lopez, M.D.
Hepatitis B symptoms
The symptoms of hepatitis B may include:
- Pain in the abdomen
- Darker than usual urine
- Aches and pains in the joints
- Fever or a higher than normal temperature
- Lowered appetite
- Physical weakness
- Jaundice which may appear as yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes
Hepatitis B symptoms can be moderate or severe. The incubation period for hepatitis B can range anywhere from 60 to 150 days, with an average length of 90 days or 3 months. If symptoms do appear, they may last 6 weeks to 6 months. It’s also possible for hepatitis B to be completely asymptomatic.
Hepatitis B may move from acute infection to chronic infection if it is not treated in the first few months.
Hepatitis B attacks the liver. Over time hepatitis B. Hepatitis B can be an acute or chronic condition however it is more likely to last less than six months and not develop into a chronic condition. It is more likely to clear itself over time.
Is hepatitis B curable or not?
Most adults with hepatitis B recover fully, even if their signs and symptoms are severe. Infants and children are more likely to develop a chronic (long-lasting) hepatitis B infection. A vaccine can prevent hepatitis B, but there’s no cure if you have the condition.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that all infants get vaccinated to prevent the spread and transmission of hepatitis B.
The CDC also recommend that the following groups get vaccinated:
- All children and adolescents younger than 19 years of age who have not been vaccinated
- People at risk for infection by sexual exposure
- People whose sex partners have hepatitis B
- Sexually active people who are not in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship (for example, people with more than one sex partner in the past 6 months)
- People seeking evaluation or treatment for a sexually transmitted infection
- Men who have sex with men
- People at risk for infection by exposure to blood
- People who inject drugs
- People who live with someone who has hepatitis B
- People who live or work in facilities for people with developmental disabilities
- Health-care and public-safety workers at risk for exposure to blood or blood-contaminated body fluids on the job
- People who receive hemodialysis
- People with diabetes who are 19–59 years of age (people with diabetes who are age 60 or older should ask their health care professional).
- International travelers to countries where hepatitis B is common
- People with hepatitis C virus infection
- People with chronic liver disease
- People with HIV infection
- People who are in jail or prison
- All other people seeking protection from hepatitis B virus infection
Does hepatitis B go away on its own?
While most adults with acute hepatitis B are able to clear the infection on their own, it can also become chronic. Chronic hepatitis B isn’t curable, but it can be managed with treatment and lifestyle modifications.
Treatment for chronic hepatitis B may include antiviral medications.
Several antiviral medications — including entecavir (Baraclude), tenofovir (Viread), lamivudine (Epivir), adefovir (Hepsera) and telbivudine (Tyzeka) can help fight the virus and slow its ability to damage your liver.
As mentioned, acute hepatitis B infection will go away on its own.
Whether you are living with acute infection, or chronic infection, you can relieve your symptoms at home by resting, eating healthy foods, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding alcohol and drugs.
Your doctor will give you a treatment plan that is specific to your needs, as well as the dos and don’ts when it comes to medication and herbal products to avoid, because some can make liver damage caused by hepatitis B worse.
Who is at risk for hepatitis B?
According to the World Health Organization, hepatitis B rates have dropped from an average of 200,000 per year in the 1980s to around 20,000 new cases in 2016. In the United States, rates of new HBV infections are highest among adults aged 40-49 years, reflecting low hepatitis B vaccination coverage among adults at risk. The most common risk factor among people with new HBV infections is injecting drugs, related to the opioid crisis.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the following groups are most at risk of contracting hepatitis B:
- People born in countries with an HBV prevalence of ≥2%
- People born in the United States not vaccinated as infants whose parents were born in regions with high rates of HBV infections (HBsAg prevalence ≥8%)
- Men who have sex with men
- People who inject drugs
- People with HIV
- Household and sexual contacts of HBV-infected people
- People requiring immunosuppressive therapy
- People with end-stage renal disease (including hemodialysis patients)
- Blood and tissue donors
- People with elevated alanine aminotransferase levels (≥19 IU/L for women and ≥30 IU/L for men)
- Pregnant women
- Infants born to HBV-infected mothers
For Info about Hepatitis B test, see LetsgetChecked Review
What does hepatitis B positive mean?
Hepatitis B positive, also known as hepatitis B reactive means that a person is infected with hepatitis B. A hepatitis B positive or reactive result may arise from a blood test that is used to detect the virus in the blood.
Does boiling water kill hepatitis B?
There is an important distinction to be made here.
Boiling water can kill the hepatitis B virus on foods and surfaces. Water over 100 degree centigrade and chlorination can kill the virus effectively, however drinking boiling water will not cure hepatitis B, it will not flush it from your system.
Looking to find out more about hepatitis treatment?
Can drinking give you hepatitis B?
Heavy drinking does not cause hepatitis B infection.
Alcoholic hepatitis is a different type of hepatitis that may be caused by drinking heavily over a number of years.
Alcohol can damage the liver by causing fat to build up. This may eventually lead to irreversible liver scarring, known as cirrhosis. Ceasing to drink alcohol will often reverse the condition in its early stages.
Can you have hepatitis B for years and not know?
It is possible to have hepatitis for years and not know that you have it. Symptoms of chronic hepatitis B can take 30 years to develop.
The majority of people will not experience symptoms until they have had the virus for 3 months. Symptoms of acute hepatitis B can last anywhere from 2-12 weeks.
- Hepatitis A- mayoclinic.org
- Hepatitis B Questions and Answers for the Public - cdc.gov
- Hepatitis B - mayoclinic.org
- Hepatitis B - who.int
- Hepatitis B Basic Information - HHS.gov
- What’s to know about alcoholic hepatitis? - medicalnewstoday.com
- When Someone Close To You Has Chronic Hepatitis B - cdc.gov
- Hepatitis B Questions and Answers for Health Professionals - cdc.gov
Written by Dr. Andrea Pinto on 25 January 2022 When it comes to sexual health, it’s very important to know which types of tests you should be getting to screen for...
24 January 2022
Written by Dr. Patricia Shelton on 24 January 2022 Ureaplasma urealyticum, commonly known simply as ureaplasma, is a type of bacteria that’s commonly found in the genital and urinary tracts...
23 January 2022
Written by Dr. Patricia Shelton on 15 January 2022 Ureaplasma is a very common type of bacteria that can be transmitted through sexual activity. Some people experience symptoms from the...
14 January 2022