The Big List of Acute Viral Hepatitis Symptoms

Possible Symptoms of Acute Viral Hepatitis

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Here is a list of symptoms associated with acute viral hepatitis. Because they are broad and varied, it is helpful to view these symptoms as happening in stages. Many doctors organize them into three groups or stages: Beginning, Later and Recovery. For more information on this, see Viral Hepatitis Symptoms.

The symptoms of acute viral hepatitis are often the same regardless of the virus that causes it.

This means that diagnosis of a particular kind of viral hepatitis can't be made from the symptoms alone. For this, you need a physician and laboratory blood tests.

The Big List of Acute Viral Hepatitis Symptoms

Initial Symptoms (Not in any particular order):

  • General malaise (a vague symptom where you feel uncomfortable and a little tired)
  • Myalgia (muscle pain)
  • Arthralgia (joint pain)
  • Fatigue (extreme tiredness)
  • Headache
  • Anorexia (having no appetite)
  • Changes in your normal sense of smell and taste accompany anorexia (For example, smokers sometimes develop a temporary distaste for smoking)
  • Unusual sensitivity to bright light (photophobia)
  • Nausea and vomiting (these are very common symptoms)
  • Diarrhea (less common)
  • Constipation (less common)
  • Fever (usually low-grade and most common in hepatitis A and E)
  • Upper-right abdominal pain (pain in the upper belly on the right side, usually mild and constant)

Later Symptoms:

  • Jaundice
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Light-colored stools

Fulminant Hepatitis Symptoms

A small number of people with acute viral hepatitis (caused by any of the hepatotropic viruses) will develop fulminant hepatitis. This is most common for hepatitis B and is possible with hepatitis C, but rarely happens. For fulminant hepatitis, the symptoms are different, and life-threatening:

  • Encephalopathy
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Ascites
  • Edema
  • Bleeding

More Information on Fulminant Hepatitis

To learn more about hepatitis and the viruses that can cause it, please follow the links below:

Sources:

Berenguer M, Wright TL. Hepatitis C. In: M Feldman, LS Friedman, LJ Brandt (eds), Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease, 8e. Philadelphia, Elsevier, 2006. 1688-1689.

Dienstag JL. Acute Viral Hepatitis. In: AS Fauci, E Braunwald, DL Kasper, SL Hauser, DL Longo, JL Jameson, J Loscaizo (eds), Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, 17e. New York, McGraw-Hill, 2008. 1941-1942.

Friedman LS. Liver, Biliary Tract, & Pancreas. In: LM Tierney, SJ McPhee, MA Papadakis (eds), Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment, 46e. New York, McGraw-Hill, 2007.

Perrillo R, Nair, S. Hepatitis B and D. In: M Feldman, LS Friedman, LJ Brandt (eds), Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease, 8e. Philadelphia, Elsevier, 2006. 1654-1655.

Sjogren MH. Hepatitis A. In: M Feldman, LS Friedman, LJ Brandt (eds), Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease, 8e. Philadelphia, Elsevier, 2006. 1641-1642.

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