• Symptoms

    Hepatitis may start and get better quickly (acute hepatitis), or cause long-term disease (chronic hepatitis). In some instances, it may lead to liver damage, liver failure, or even liver cancer.

    How severe hepatitis is depends on many factors, including the cause of the liver damage and any illnesses you have. Hepatitis A, for example, is usually short-term and does not lead to chronic liver problems.

    The symptoms of hepatitis include:

    • Abdominal pain or distention
    • Breast development in males
    • Dark urine and pale or clay-colored stools
    • Fatigue
    • Fever, usually low-grade
    • General itching
    • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
    • Loss of appetite
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Weight loss

    Many people with hepatitis B or C do not have symptoms when they are first infected. They can still develop liver failure later. If you have any risk factors for either type of hepatitis, you should be tested regularly.

    Signs and tests

    A physical examination may show:

    • Enlarged and tender liver
    • Fluid in the abdomen (ascites) that can become infected
    • Yellowing of the skin

    Your doctor may order laboratory tests to diagnose and monitor the hepatitis, including:

    • Abdominal ultrasound
    • Autoimmune blood markers
    • Hepatitis virus serologies
    • Liver function tests
    • Liver biopsy to check for liver damage
    • Paracentesis if fluid is in your abdomen