Hepatitis B vs. Hepatitis C: What’s the Difference?


First, it’s important to note that Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C do share some similarities:

• Both can be transmitted by blood contact with an infected individual
• Both cause liver damage
• Both are treated with medication

However, the differences between the two are very important. Hepatitis B can be acute or, short term, but it can also be chronic. It is very possible for someone to have Hepatitis B and not be aware of it because a common symptom of this condition is to feel like you have the flu. Hepatitis B can be caused by a variety of actions: unprotected intercourse with an infected individual, transfer from mom to baby during childbirth, needle sharing with an infected individual, unsanitary tattoos/piercing, or sharing razors and/or toothbrushes with an infected individual.ID-10065688

A blood test can be used to diagnose Hepatitis B as most people who have the chronic version of the condition do not exhibit symptoms. For those who do show symptoms, doctors will look for: flu symptoms, a lack of appetite, vomiting, stomach pain, achy muscles, skin rash(s), and yellowing skin/eyes. Treatment for Hepatitis B can range from following a healthy lifestyle, avoiding certain medications and herbal products that would aggravate any existing liver damage and prescribing specific medications that will relieve the risk of future complications.

Hepatitis C differs from Hepatitis B in that it is almost always a chronic condition. It can only be contracted via blood contact with an infected individual. Similar to Hepatitis B, it’s possible that many individuals who are infected with Hepatitis C will not show symptoms. In fact it’s common for those infected with Hepatitis C to not be aware of their condition for a decade or longer without testing.

For those who do exhibit symptoms, doctors will look for: fatigue, joint pain, stomach pain, itchy skin, dark urine, and yellowing skin and/or eyes. Fortunately, treatment for Hepatitis C is constantly evolving, with new developments that look very promising. Medication options for this condition are considered on an individual basis – for instance, a person with Hepatitis C may not actually benefit from treatment if the side effects of the treatment prove intolerable to that particular individual.

If you would like to discuss the symptoms or treatment options of Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C with a specialist, please contact San Francisco Gastroenterology.

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