HEPATITIS A & B
May 16, 1997
Dear Ricky, I would like to know what are the symptoms for Hep. A & B. How long after infection does one (on average) feel the symptoms? Thank you, Paul
Response from Mr. Sowadsky
Thank you for your question. The word Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. Not everybody who has viral Hepatitis (A, B, C, D, E etc.) will get symptoms. But in those that do, the symptoms can be either mild or severe. Persons with acute hepatitis can have flu-like symptoms (muscle aches, body aches, mild fever, malaise), lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue as well. They may also have abdominal pain and tenderness. In very severe cases, a person can turn yellow. This is called jaundice. There are also non-viral causes of Hepatitis, which can cause very similar symptoms. It's important to remember that most of these symptoms resemble those of many other illnesses. A person must see their physician and get tested to determine the cause of their symptoms. Having these symptoms can be due to numerous causes other than Hepatitis. This is why laboratory testing is so important to diagnose these symptoms. And again, many people with Hepatitis have no symptoms at all.
Some forms of Hepatitis (especially Hepatitis B and C) can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer, usually years after infection. Some people who have Hepatitis (especially Hepatitis B and C) can die of the infection.
In terms of when symptoms (if any) of Hepatitis begin, this varies from one type of Hepatitis to another. See the questions, "How soon should I test for Hep B?/ Window Period for Hepatitis?" and "Hepatitis A,B,C,D,E" for more information.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).
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