Hepatitis B often doesn’t show symptoms, and it usually goes away on its own. Most people don’t even know they have it. When there are hepatitis B symptoms, it can feel like the flu.
Hepatitis B often has no symptoms.
About half of adults with hepatitis B never get any symptoms. The symptoms can also feel like other illnesses, like the flu. So it’s possible to have the infection and not know it.
Symptoms of hepatitis B
When people do show signs of hepatitis B, they usually show up between 6 weeks and 6 months after they got the virus. Hepatitis B symptoms typically last for a few weeks, but can sometimes stick around for months.
These are the signs and symptoms of hepatitis B:
- feeling really tired
- pain in your belly
- losing your appetite
- nausea and vomiting
- pain in your joints
- dark-colored urine (pee)
- pale, clay-colored bowel movements (poop)
- jaundice — when your eyes and skin get yellow
If you have any symptoms of hepatitis B, it’s important to check with a doctor or nurse for testing. Hepatitis B usually will go away by itself, but it may become chronic and seriously damage your liver.
What are the symptoms of chronic hepatitis B?
About 1 in 20 people who get hepatitis B as adults become “carriers,” which means they have a chronic (long-lasting) hepatitis B infection. Carriers are more likely to pass hepatitis B to other people. Most carriers are contagious — meaning they can spread hepatitis B — for the rest of their lives.
Hepatitis B infections that last a long time may lead to serious liver diseases like cirrhosis and liver cancer. About 1 in 5 people with chronic hepatitis B die from it. There are medicines that can help treat chronic hepatitis B infections.
Most babies who get hepatitis B develop chronic infection, unless they get treated right away. But treatments almost always work if your baby gets them quickly. That’s why it’s important for pregnant people to get tested for hepatitis B.