Most people are not aware that they have hepatitis B and they have no signs or symptoms. For this reason, hepatitis B is often called the "silent infection".
If people do experience symptoms or warning signs, they may include:
Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes, dark colored urine)
Light-colored stool (feces, poop)
Loss of appetite
When a person is first infected, it is called an "acute infection". Some people are able to fight off the infection in the first few months and recover. If the virus is detectable in the blood for more than 6 months, the person is considered to have a "chronic infection". Age is a risk factor for developing chronic infection. According to the World Health Organization:
90% of infants exposed to hepatitis B will develop chronic infections
Between 25% - 50% of children between the ages of 1 and 5 years will develop chronic infections
5%-10% of healthy adults will develop chronic infection.
Infection with hepatitis B can lead to slow, progressive liver damage. The liver damage can include inflammation, liver scarring (fibrosis), severe liver damage, and even liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma).
Hepatitis B is the leading cause of liver cancer and the 10th leading cause of death in the world.