What does Hep B do?
How will it affect my body? Are there symptoms?
Hepatitis B mainly affects the liver. Indeed the word ‘hepatitis’ means inflammation or swelling of the liver. When a liver becomes inflamed, it can become damaged and have difficulty carrying out its various and vital functions. Over a long period of time, this can progress to serious liver damage (such as cirrhosis and decompensated cirrhosis) or liver cancer in some people.
Hepatitis B affects everybody differently. In the first one to six months of hepatitis B infection (also known as the acute phase) around 50% of people will experience no symptoms. In many cases people will experience no symptoms at all – even if they progress to long term (chronic) infection. Some people may go jaundiced (yellowing of the skin or eyes) experience tiredness and fatigue or have upset stomachs or sickness. Other digestive and skin problems have also been reported as well as problems relating to the eyes and thyroid. Usually these symptoms clear up a few weeks after infection.
Symptoms are not related to how badly damaged the liver is. In other words you can’t tell the state of your liver by the state of your health. Even if you are not experiencing symptoms, you can still pass the virus on to others.