An Overview of Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Approximately 1 million people in the United States are infected with the disease. Hepatitis B infections take two forms; acute (temporary) and chronic.
Like many STDs, hepatitis B may not produce noticeable signs or symptoms. When present, symptoms may mimic the flu and can range from mild to severe. Symptoms include loss of appetite, malaise (feeling of ill-health), fatigue, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, dark urine, or jaundice.
Most people have been vaccinated for hepatitis B as part of routine care. Those not immunized are at risk for contracting the disease. If exposure to hepatitis B is suspected, testing early is critical even if no signs or symptoms are present. Hepatitis B infection can cause liver damage well before symptoms appear.
Treatment for hepatitis B depends on the form of infection; acute or chronic. An acute infection will go away on its own. On the other hand, chronic hepatitis B infection is treated with antiviral medication and in severe cases, a liver transplant.