Hepatitis B is called a "silent infection" because most people do not have any symptoms when they are first infected. Thus, they can unknowingly pass the virus to others and continue the silent spread of hepatitis B. Testing is the only way to know for sure if you are infected.
- Most healthy adults do not experience any symptoms when they are first infected with the hepatitis B virus
- Some people who are infected will have symptoms and seek medical attention, but many will think they just have the flu and ignore the symptoms
- About 1 percent of those infected will develop a life-threatening condition called "fulminant hepatitis," which can be fatal and result in liver failure and death. Although this response is rare, fulminant hepatitis develops suddenly and requires immediate medical attention.
Common symptoms of hepatitis B infection
- Fever, fatigue, muscle or joint pain
- Loss of appetite
- Mild nausea and vomiting
- Stomach pain
- Pale or light colored stools
- Dark, tea colored urine
Serious symptoms that require immediate medical attention
It is always a good idea to talk to your health care provider or seek medical attention if you don't feel well or if you are uncertain about whether you have been infected with hepatitis B. A simple hepatitis B blood test can easily diagnose whether or not you have an infection.