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Hepatitis B (cont.)

Hepatitis B Symptoms

Half of all people infected with the hepatitis B virus have no symptoms and may never realize that they have been infected. Adults are more likely to develop symptoms than children. For those who do get sick, symptoms usually develop within 1 to 4 months after exposure to the virus. The initial symptoms are often similar to the flu.

Common symptoms of hepatitis B include:

  • Appetite loss
  • Feeling tired (fatigue)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Itching all over the body
  • Pain over the location of the liver (on the right side of the abdomen, under the lower rib cage)
  • Jaundice (a condition in which the skin and the whites of the eyes turn yellow in color)
  • Dark urine (the color of cola or tea)
  • Pale-colored stools (grayish or clay colored)

Many types of acute viral hepatitis such as hepatitis A andhepatitis C have symptoms that are indistinguishable from hepatitis B.

Fulminate hepatitis is a severe form of acute hepatitis that can be life-threatening if not treated right away. Fortunately, fulminate hepatitis is rare. The symptoms of fulminate hepatitis develop very suddenly and may include:

  • Mental disturbances such as confusion, lethargy, extreme sleepiness or hallucinations (hepatic encephalopathy)
  • Sudden collapse with fatigue
  • Jaundice
  • Swelling of the abdomen

Prolonged nausea and vomiting can cause dehydration. Individuals with dehydration may notice these symptoms:

  • Extreme weakness
  • Confusion or trouble concentrating
  • Headache
  • Lack of urination
  • Irritability

Symptoms of liver damage may include the following:

  • Fluid retention causing swelling of the belly (ascites) and sometimes the legs
  • Weight gain due to ascites
  • Persistent jaundice
  • Loss of appetite, weight loss, wasting
  • Vomiting with blood in the vomit
  • Bleeding from the nose, mouth, or rectum; or blood in the stool
  • Hepatic encephalopathy (excessive sleepiness, mental confusion, and in advanced stages, development of coma)
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/4/2014
Medical Editor:

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Hepatitis B »

In 1965, Blumberg et al reported the discovery of the hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), also known as Australia antigen, and its antibody, hepatitis B surface antibody (HBsAb).

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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