Hepatitis B is a virus that causes inflammation of the liver.
- Acute hepatitis B occurs in the first 3 to 6 months after you contract the virus. Acute hepatitis needs no treatment other than careful testing and monitoring of liver function.
- In chronic hepatitis B, the virus has not left your body. People with chronic hepatitis may have no symptoms, even though gradual liver damage may be occurring. Those who are chronically infected carry the virus and may pass it to others, and are at risk for developing liver cancer.
Symptoms of chronic hepatitis B may include:
- Low grade fever
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Joint or muscle aches
- Yellow skin or dark urine due to jaundice
Acute hepatitis needs no treatment other than careful testing and monitoring of liver function. Some patients with chronic hepatitis may be treated with antiviral medications; while hepatitis B cannot be completely cured, these medications can reduce inflammation and infection.
In the rare case that acute liver failure is developed, a liver transplant may be necessary.