Early symptoms of viral hepatitis

Early symptoms of viral hepatitisThe common denominator among the early symptoms of viral hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver – which is what the word hepatitis actually means. Even though different strains of viruses can cause these infections – i.e., HAV (Hep A), HBV (Hep B), HCV (Hep C), HDV (Hep D), and HEV (Hep E) – the main symptoms are basically the same for each.

 Hepatitis symptoms

·         Fever.

·         Fatigue.

·         Appetite loss.

·         Nausea.

·         Vomiting.

·         Abdominal pain.

·         Dark urine.

·         Clay-colored stool.

·         Joint pain.

·         Jaundice.

The A, B, C, D, and E of Hepatitis



How you can get it



Acute liver disease that lasts from a few weeks to several months. It does not cause chronic infection.

·         Ingesting fecal matter.

·         Close person to person contact.

·         Contaminated food or beverages.

Vaccine recommended for children age 1, travelers to certain countries, and others who are at risk.


Ranges from mild, acute illness to chronic infection that can cause liver disease or cancer.

·         Contact with infected blood, semen, and other bodily fluids during sex with an infected individual.

·         Sharing contaminated needles.

·         Mother-to-newborn transmission.

Vaccine recommended for all infants, older children, and teenagers not previously vaccinated, as well as adults at risk.


It may result in acute illness but usually progresses to chronic condition and from there to cirrhosis and cancer.

·         Contact with infected blood through sharing needles.

No vaccine available.


Serious but uncommon in the U.S.A.

·         Contact with infected blood.

No vaccine available.


Serious but rare in the U.S.A. It does not cause a chronic infection.

·         Ingesting fecal matter.

No FDA-approved vaccine available.


As the table above hints, there are certain people who are at an increased risk of contracting hepatitis, but who are they?

Groups at risk of hepatitis:

·         Asian and Pacific Islanders are at an increased risk for hepatitis B.

·         African Americans are at higher risk of hepatitis C.

·         People with sexually transmitted infections are more likely to also have hepatitis B, and less commonly, hepatitis C (means of STI prevention such as condoms do not prevent HAV).

·         People with HIV/AIDS are more likely to develop hepatitis B and C.

·         Men who have sex with other men are at higher risk of hepatitis A and B, and C if they practice risky behaviors.

·         People who use intravenous drugs and share needles and other drug paraphernalia are at higher risk of hepatitis B and C.

Although viral hepatitis is the major cause of liver cancer and the main reason for liver transplantation, it is believed that the majority of the 4.4 million Americans estimated to have hepatitis are not aware of it. Hence the importance of paying attention to the early symptoms of viral hepatitis, and of screening in those who are in at-risk populations.