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Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of hepatitis are the same, regardless of the cause, but they may vary from person to person and over time. Most people with chronic hepatitis have no symptoms at all. Some people with acute hepatitis have no symptoms, but many have mild and/or vague symptoms that may be mistaken for the flu. Some of the more common signs and symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Joint aches
  • Itching
  • Yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice, the one symptom strongly suggesting liver damage as the cause of other symptoms)

Some people may experience additional signs and symptoms, such as loss of appetite, dark-colored urine, or light-colored stools. More serious complications can involve accumulation of fluid in the abdomen (ascites) and mental confusion.

A physical examination may reveal a liver that is tender and enlarged. In some people, chronic hepatitis can gradually damage the liver and, after many years, cause liver failure. The chronic form typically lasts for many years and rarely goes away without treatment.

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