Viral Hepatitis Symptoms
How Long Do Acute Symptoms Last?In most cases, symptoms of acute viral hepatitis gradually get better within a couple of weeks to months. People with this form of hepatitis typically have no long-lasting liver damage and will make a complete recovery.
Yet, for some people, the body is not able to completely get rid of the virus. These people end up having a long-term liver infection; this is known as chronic viral hepatitis. Only certain types of acute viral hepatitis can become chronic. This includes hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and hepatitis D.
Chronic infection can lead to chronic liver disease, liver scarring, and liver cancer.
Chronic SymptomsThe effects of chronic hepatitis can be quite different from one person to another. For example, some people have severe viral hepatitis symptoms and cirrhosis after many years of having the disease, while others have very few scars.
For some people with chronic viral hepatitis, the scarring within the liver can become so bad that it interferes with, or even prevents, blood from flowing freely through the liver. This makes it harder for the liver to do its job.
As the disease progresses, more scars are formed and can begin to join together. When many of these scars form together, it is called cirrhosis. This causes the liver to shrink and harden.
There are a number of cirrhosis symptoms that can occur as a result of chronic viral hepatitis. Some of these symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain (stomach pain)
- Spider-like blood vessels (spider angiomas) that develop on the skin.
Late Chronic Viral Hepatitis Symptoms
As the liver continues to be damaged and scarred, it may stop performing one or more of its normal functions. For example, it may stop cleaning harmful wastes, toxins, and drugs from the blood. It may also stop making enough of the proteins that your body needs to function properly. This is called liver failure.
It is possible that before liver failure develops, people with viral hepatitis may not even know that their liver is being damaged. They may not have any symptoms or notice any physical changes to their body.
However, when the liver becomes badly damaged with cirrhosis and liver failure occurs, several late symptoms of viral hepatitis can begin to appear, including:
- Fluid buildup in the stomach area and legs
- Bleeding in the intestines
- Slowing down of mental function
- Bruising or bleeding that occurs very easily
- Itchy skin
- Personality changes
- Coma or death.
When liver failure occurs in a person with viral hepatitis, he or she may also develop:
- Bleeding in the stomach and esophagus (known as varices)
- Insulin resistance
- High blood pressure within the liver (portal hypertension)
- Sensitivity to medication
Click any of the following links to learn about symptoms associated with each of the types of this condition: