Hepatitis B

"There is a very effective and safe vaccine that prevents the infection by the B virus and, consequently, the superinfection by delta virus that only occurs in carriers of the B virus".


Hepatitis is a group of diseases characterized by inflammation of the liver. The infection by these viruses increases transaminases and only in some cases symptoms appear.

Hepatitis B is transmitted by contact with blood (transfusions, drug addiction) or vertically (from mother to child during pregnancy or delivery).

It can also be transmitted by sexual contact. It usually does not produce symptoms and can become chronic.

Acute hepatitis B is cured in 90% of cases, but the remaining 10% progress to chronic hepatitis.

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What are the symptoms of Hepatitis B?

Acute hepatitis may not produce any symptoms and may go unnoticed by the patient. At other times there may be non-specific symptoms such as general malaise, tiredness, nausea.

In addition, in some cases jaundice develops, ie, yellow pigmentation of the skin and mucous membranes, which is accompanied by dark urine (coluria) and white or yellowish stools (acolia).

Chronic hepatitis is also characterized by very few symptoms and is often diagnosed by chance when tested for other reasons.

When there are symptoms, the most frequent are fatigue, mild and unspecific discomfort in the right side of the abdomen or mild digestive disorders.

What are the most common symptoms?

  • Jaundice.
  • Coluria.
  • Acolia.
  • Fatigue.
  • General malaise.

Do you have any of these symptoms?

You may have hepatitis B

What are the causes of hepatitis?

The possible causes of hepatitis can be divided into three main groups: 

  • Living agents: the hepatitis viruses, which are by far the most frequent cause of hepatitis in our environment. The most common viruses are A and E -causing acute epidemic hepatitis, transmitted by contaminated food or water- and B, C and delta viruses, -causing both acute and chronic hepatitis-, which are mainly transmitted by parenteral means, that is, through transfusions, contaminated needles or sexual relations.
  • Drugs and toxins: led by alcohol. The intake of alcoholic beverages is one of the main causes of hepatitis in the Western world. Some drugs are also capable of producing hepatitis, especially acute ones, but they are a rare cause of chronic hepatitis.
  • Diseases of unknown cause: these include autoimmune hepatitis, in which the patient's own immune system damages the liver, and cryptogenetic hepatitis (with no known cause).

Can you prevent the spread of Hepatitis B?

B, C and delta viruses are transmitted by blood and sex.

Blood banks test all samples to rule out infection by these viruses, so the spread has been greatly reduced in recent years.

There is a very effective and safe vaccine that prevents the infection by the B virus and, consequently, the superinfection by delta virus that only occurs in carriers of the B virus. This vaccine is already included in the vaccination calendar.

How is Hepatitis B diagnosed?

The data that initially leads to the diagnosis is the increase in the blood levels of transaminases, enzymes that are released into the blood by cell death produced by the inflammation of the liver. 

The elevation of transaminases can be very important in acute hepatitis, and is mild or moderate in chronic hepatitis.

From there, the diagnosis is completed with other analytical determinations that will also help find the cause of hepatitis and determine its severity and prognosis.

For a definitive diagnosis, in many cases it is necessary to perform a liver biopsy.

How is Hepatitis B treated?

Acute hepatitis B virus is not treated. Only its evolution is followed to avoid complications and to evaluate its possible chronification.

Chronic hepatitis, due to the potential development of cirrhosis, is usually always treated under the supervision of a specialist.

Chronic hepatitis B is treated with antiviral drugs such as interferon alpha, lamivudine, adefovir-dipivoxil, entecavir or combinations thereof.

Where do we treat it?


The Hepatology Unit
of the Clínica Universidad de Navarra

We are pioneers in the application of gene therapy in the treatment of liver tumors and hereditary metabolic diseases, and we have extensive experience in the diagnosis and treatment of viral hepatitis and in the treatment of liver cancer using radioembolization systems with Ytrium-90 microspheres. 

The Clinic is at the forefront in Spain in performing liver transplantation between living people.

Treatments we perform

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Why at the Clinica?

  • Highly specialized team of professionals with more than 25 years of experience.
  • Nursing team specialized in hepatic patients.
  • Important research activity on the molecular mechanisms that cause some of these diseases.