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Hepatitis A (cont.)

Hepatitis A Symptoms

  • Many people with HAV infection have no symptoms at all.
  • Sometimes symptoms are so mild that they go unnoticed.
  • Older people are more likely to have symptoms than children.
  • People who do not have symptoms can still spread the virus so it is difficult to know when a person has been exposed to the virus.

Symptoms of hepatitis A usually develop between 2 and 6 weeks after infection. The symptoms are usually not too severe and go away on their own, over time. The most common symptoms are as follows:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea, especially in children
  • Pale or gray-colored stools
  • Low-grade fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rash
  • Tiredness, fatigue
  • Jaundice (a yellow discoloration of the skin and the whites of the eyes, see image below)
  • Urine is dark brownish in color, like cola or strong tea.
  • Pain in area of liver, on the right side of the abdomen just under the rib cage

Picture of Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes)

Picture of Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes)

Photo courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

If the vomiting is severe, dehydration may occur. Dehydration may become serious and life-threatening in some affected individuals, so symptoms of dehydration need to be quickly addressed, often by a medical caregiver. Symptoms of dehydration include the following:

  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Feeling confused or unable to concentrate
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Headache
  • Urinating less frequently than usual
  • Irritability

Symptoms of hepatitis A infection usually last less than 2 months, although they may last as long as 9 months. About 15% of people infected with hepatitis A have symptoms that come and go for 6-9 months.

Hepatitis does not occur simply from being near someone who has the disease at work or at school.

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