National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTHNational Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse Contents
What is hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is a liver disease.
makes your liver swell andstops it from working right.
liver also stores energyfor when you need it.
What causes hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is caused by a virus.
A virus is a germ that causes sickness. (For example,the flu is caused by a virus.) People can pass virusesto each other. The virus that causes hepatitis B iscalled the hepatitis B virus.
How could I get hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is spread by contact with an infected
person’s blood, semen, or other body fluid.

You could get hepatitis B by
● having a tattoo or body piercing done with dirty tools that were used on someone else ● getting pricked with a needle that has infected blood on it (health care workerscan get hepatitis B this way) ● living with someone who has hepatitis B ● sharing a toothbrush or razor with an ● traveling to countries where hepatitis B is An infected woman can give hepatitis B to herbaby at birth or through her breast milk.
You can NOT get hepatitis B by
● shaking hands with an infected person What are the symptoms?
Hepatitis B can make you feel like
you have the flu.

You might
Some people have
Some people don’t have any symptoms.
If you have symptoms or think you might havehepatitis B, go to a doctor.
What are the tests for hepatitis B?
To check for hepatitis B, the doctor will test
your blood.

These tests show if you have hepatitis B and howserious it is.
The doctor will take some blood to check forhepatitis B.
The doctor may also do a liver biopsy.
A biopsy (BYE-op-see) is a simple test. The doctorremoves a tiny piece of your liver through a needle.
The doctor checks the piece of liver for signs ofhepatitis B and liver damage.
How is hepatitis B treated?
Treatment for hepatitis B may involve
A drug called interferon (in-ter-FEAR-on).
It is given through shots. Most people aretreated for 4 months.
A drug called lamivudine (la-MIV-you-deen).
You take it by mouth once a day. Treatment isusually for one year.
A drug called adefovir dipivoxil (uh-DEH-foh-
veer dih-pih-VOX-ill). You take it by mouthonce a day. Treatment is usually for one year.
Surgery. Over time, hepatitis B may cause
your liver to stop working. If that happens,you will need a new liver. The surgery is calleda liver transplant. It involves taking out theold, damaged liver and putting in a new,healthy one from a donor.
Hepatitis B istreated throughshots of medicine.
How can I protect myself?
You can get the hepatitis B vaccine.
A vaccine is a drug that you take when you arehealthy that keeps you from getting sick. Vaccinesteach your body to attack certain viruses, like thehepatitis B virus.
The hepatitis B vaccine is given through threeshots. All babies should get the vaccine. Infantsget the first shot within 12 hours after birth. Theyget the second shot at age 1 to 2 months and thethird shot between ages 6 and 18 months.
Older children and adults can get the vaccine, too.
They get three shots over 6 months. Children whohave not had the vaccine should get it.
You need all of the shots to be protected. If you
are traveling to other countries, make sure you get
all the shots before you go. If you miss a shot, call
your doctor or clinic right away to set up a new
Vaccines protectyou from gettinghepatitis B.
You can also protect yourself and others from
hepatitis B if you

● don’t share drug needles with anyone person’s toothbrush,razor, or anything elsethat could have bloodon it People who touch blood atwork should wear gloves toprotect themselves fromhepatitis B.
For More Information
You can also get information about hepatitis Bfrom these groups: American Liver Foundation (ALF)
75 Maiden Lane, Suite 603
New York, NY 10038–4810
Phone: 1–800–GO–LIVER (465–4837),
1–888–4HEP–USA (443–7872),or (212) 668–1000 Fax: (212) 483–8179Email: [email protected]: www.liverfoundation.org Hepatitis B Foundation
700 East Butler Avenue
Doylestown, PA 18901–2697
Phone: (215) 489–4900
Fax: (215) 489–4920
Email: [email protected]
Internet: www.hepb.org
Hepatitis Foundation International (HFI)
504 Blick Drive
Silver Spring, MD 20904–2901
Phone: 1–800–891–0707 or (301) 622–4200
Fax: (301) 622–4702
Email: [email protected]
Internet: www.hepfi.org
More in the Series
There are other types of hepatitis. The NationalDigestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse alsohas booklets about hepatitis A and hepatitis C: ● What I need to know about Hepatitis AWhat I need to know about Hepatitis C You can get a free copy of each of these booklets bycalling 1–800–891–5389 or (301) 654–3810, or bywriting to NDDIC
2 Information Way
Bethesda, MD 20892–3570
Hepatitis information for health professionals isalso available.
The individuals listed here provided editorialguidance or facilitated field testing for thispublication. The National Digestive DiseasesInformation Clearinghouse would like to thankthem for their contribution.
National Digestive Diseases
Information Clearinghouse

2 Information WayBethesda, MD 20892–3570Phone: 1–800–891–5389 or (301) 654–3810Fax: (301) 907–8906Email: [email protected]: www.digestive.niddk.nih.gov The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse(NDDIC) is a service of the National Institute of Diabetesand Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). The NIDDKis part of the National Institutes of Health under the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services. Established in1980, the clearinghouse provides information about digestivediseases to people with digestive disorders and to theirfamilies, health care professionals, and the public. NDDICanswers inquiries, develops and distributes publications, andworks closely with professional and patient organizations andGovernment agencies to coordinate resources about digestivediseases.
Publications produced by the clearinghouse are carefullyreviewed by both NIDDK scientists and outside experts.
This publication is not copyrighted. The clearinghouseencourages users of this booklet to duplicate and distributeas many copies as desired.
This booklet is also available at www.digestive.niddk.nih.gov. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTHAND HUMAN SERVICESNational Institutes of Health National Institute of Diabetes andDigestive and Kidney Diseases NIH Publication No. 04–4228December 2003

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