Hepatitis - Symptoms

The symptoms of the various forms of hepatitis are similar. They are caused by damage to the liver. Perhaps the most noticeable symptom is jaundice. Jaundice causes a yellowing of the skin. Other symptoms associated

with hepatitis include fatigue, general achiness, nausea, mild fever, and loss of appetite. As infection spreads in the liver, the organ becomes enlarged. It may cause pain in the abdomen.

In the case of acute hepatitis, these symptoms tend to disappear within a few months. In a very small percentage of cases, symptoms may become worse. In less than 1 percent of cases, the patient's liver may fail completely. Patients then stand only a 50–50 chance of surviving the disease.

In cases where symptoms last for at least six months, the patient is said to have chronic hepatitis. Symptoms may continue to get worse. But the worst damage that occurs is cirrhosis of the liver. Cirrhosis leads to liver cancer in somewhat less than 10 percent of all cases.

Many people who have been infected with a hepatitis virus show no symptoms at all. In the case of hepatitis B, that number may be as high as 50 percent. Up to three-quarters of all children with hepatitis A never have symptoms of the infection. Although these individuals have no symptoms, they are still carriers of the disease. They can pass the virus on to other individuals.

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