Hepatitis B Symptoms
Some hepatitis B symptoms that are especially common in the early stages of the disease include fatigue, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, and a low-grade fever. Most people with hepatitis B gradually get better within a couple of months. For some people, however, the body is unable to kill the hepatitis B virus. These people develop chronic hepatitis B. A person with chronic hepatitis B may develop cirrhosis, which can cause signs and symptoms such as weakness, nausea, weight loss, and loss of appetite.
Signs and Symptoms of Hepatitis B: An Overview
When a person becomes infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV), the virus begins to multiply within the liver. Thirty to 180 days later, a person may develop symptoms of hepatitis B.
However, not everyone infected with the hepatitis B virus will actually have symptoms. Also, some of the people who do develop symptoms will have only very mild symptoms. In fact, about 30 percent of people with this disease will have no symptoms of hepatitis B. You can look and feel perfectly healthy, yet still be infected with the disease and infect others.
Infants and children are more likely to have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. People over the age of 50 are most likely to have more severe symptoms.
For a person with hepatitis B, symptoms (especially early symptoms) may include one or several of the following:
- Excessive tiredness
- Not feeling very hungry
- Nausea or vomiting
- A low-grade fever
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
- Sore throat
- Mild abdominal pain (or stomach pain)
- Dark urine
- Light-colored stool.
Oftentimes, these early symptoms may be confused with those commonly seen with the stomach flu (see Stomach Flu Symptoms).
Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes) usually occurs several days after early symptoms of hepatitis B first appear. However, it may occur up to two weeks after symptoms begin. At this point, early symptoms tend to improve; but other new symptoms may appear, such as abdominal pain (or stomach pain) on the right side.
The overall rate of death from a hepatitis B infection is 1 percent. Loss of life is more common in older people infected with the hepatitis B virus. When someone dies from a hepatitis B infection, it is most often because of a complication known as fulminant hepatitis, which is a condition that results in liver failure. Besides older individuals, people who are at an increased risk of fulminant hepatitis include those with severe liver disease (cirrhosis) and those who have had a liver transplant.