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What is hepatitis B?

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Quick Answer

Hepatitis B is a condition that affects the liver, and can cause liver cancer, liver scarring and sometimes, complete failure of the liver. In some cases, it can be terminal. It is a result of infection from the hepatitis B virus, or HBV, according to WebMD. Hepatitis B is contracted through exposure to bodily fluids, such as vaginal secretions, secretions from sores, blood and semen.

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Full Answer

The symptoms of hepatitis B, which usually appear between 1 and 6 months after exposure, include fever, pain in the abdomen, tiredness that can't be explained and lasts for several weeks or months, feces that is light in color, low appetite, vomiting and jaundice, which is characterized by urine that appears brown or orange, and yellowed skin or eyes. In many cases, symptoms do not appear, and the disease is only found when the blood is tested, says to WebMD.

Most of the time, the body is able to fight off the hepatitis B infection after a couple of months, and is also able to develop immunity to the disease. In some cases, however, people are not able to fight off the infection. When this happens, people become carriers of the disease. Then, hepatitis B can be spread through shared needles and close bodily contact. In some carriers, the infection disappears after a time. But, some develop chronic hepatitis, which can lead to serious conditions, such as liver cancer and cirrhosis, or hardening of the liver, which causes tissue scarring and failure of the liver.

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