Hepatitis B is a liver function spread through semen, blood, and vaginal fluids. The infection is more common in Africa and Asia and usually only lasts for a few months, but some people might have long-term hepatitis B.
Hepatitis B symptoms
The following are the symptoms of hepatitis B:
- High temperature.
- Pain in the upper abdomen.
- Raised skin with itchiness.
- Jaundice (yellowing of eyes and skin).
The infection typically lasts 1–3 months, and most people have no or mild symptoms. When the infection lasts more than six months and is known as chronic hepatitis B.
Hepatitis B causes
The infection usually spreads through blood, vaginal fluids, and semen. So the causes of hepatitis B are:
- Having intercourse with no protection.
- Sharing needles while injecting drugs.
- Injury by a used needle.
- Piercing or tattooing with unsterilised equipment.
- Blood transfusion without checking for hepatitis B.
If you are having hepatitis B while pregnant, it can also pass through the unborn during birth or pregnancy.
Hepatitis B preventions
Vaccination can prevent hepatitis B. Babies born to mothers who have or had hepatitis B are given additional vaccinations to reduce the risk of developing the infection.
Adults need to get the vaccine if:
- They are travelling to a country where they are at high risk of developing hepatitis B.
- If they have kidney or liver diseases.
- If they have HIV.
- If they work where the risk of infection is high, like working in prison or as a healthcare worker.
Employers should organise vaccination if the job puts people at risk, and if you travel abroad, get advice from a doctor before you depart.
Other preventive ways are:
- Use protection while having intercourse.
- Avoid sharing needles, toothbrushes, and razors.
Reviewed by – Dr. Priyanka, MBBS MD Microbiology
Page last reviewed: 23 JUNE 2022