How does hepatitis affect the body?

How does hepatitis affect the body?

How does hepatitis affect the body?

Typically, symptoms for all types of hepatitis occur once the infection begins causing damage to the liver. In acute cases, symptoms develop quickly and in chronic instances, signs may take up to 6 months to begin showing concern.

General signs and symptoms for acute and chronic hepatitis

All hepatitis types will have the following signs and symptoms in common:

Other signs and symptoms for hepatitis A (between 15 and 50 days following contact with the virus)

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Clay-coloured stools (bowel movements)

Other signs and symptoms for hepatitis B and D (between 1 and 4 months following contact with the virus)

  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Joint pain
  • Body weakness
  • Headache
  • Tan-coloured stools (bowel movements)

All symptom for hepatitis B must be assessed and treated by a medical professional as quickly as possible to prevent an infection developing into HDV and further health complications. If you are exposed to the virus and can seek treatment within the first 24 hours following exposure, an infection can be prevented with prompt medical attention.

A HDV infection may not always display obvious symptoms but when they do, they are very similar to those of hepatitis B. Symptoms of HDV can often make those of HBV worse, which can make diagnosis a little trickier.

Other signs and symptoms for hepatitis C (between 2 weeks and 6 months following contact with the virus)

  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Joint pain
  • Itching skin
  • Nausea

If there are already signs of damage to your liver, you will display the following symptoms:

  • Redness / tenderness on the palms of your hands
  • Spider angiomas - Clusters of ‘tiny red spiders’ (blood vessels just beneath the skin) – usually on the face, shoulders and chest areas
  • Swelling in the feet, legs and abdominal area (belly)
  • Fluid build-up in the abdomen (ascites)
  • Muscle shrinkage
  • Bleeding in the digestive tract (variceal bleeding)
  • Hepatic encephalopathy (damage to the brain and nervous system) – confusion, concentration problems, slurred speech, drowsiness and memory lapses.

Other signs and symptoms for hepatitis E (within a few weeks following contact with the virus)

  • Liver enlargement
  • Acute liver failure
  • Nausea and vomiting

Non-viral hepatitis signs and symptoms

  • Alcoholic hepatitis: Common symptoms include jaundice, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, a low fever, abdominal tenderness or discomfort, body weakness, fatigue and unexplained weight loss (due to malnourishment and high calorie intake from alcohol consumption). In severe cases, common symptoms include ascites, kidney and liver failure, behavioural changes and confusion.
  • Autoimmune hepatitis: The most typical symptoms include fatigue, jaundice, an enlarged liver, abdominal discomfort and tenderness, spider angiomas and skin rashes, joint pain, and menstruation loss (in females).