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Research Feature

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Read the story of the hepatitis E vaccine.

Hepatitis B

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Symptoms

Hepatitis B does not always cause obvious symptoms. Children are less likely than adults to have symptoms, but they are more likely than adults to develop chronic hepatitis B after an acute infection.

Symptoms of acute hepatitis B include:

  • Jaundice
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dark urine
  • Joint pain

Symptoms of acute hepatitis B generally appear 3 months after you have been exposed to the virus and may last for several weeks to 6 months. 

People with chronic hepatitis B may show no symptoms for 2 to 3 decades. However, about 15 to 25 percent of those chronically infected may develop serious liver disease that is not apparent at first. Chronic infection can ultimately lead to long-term liver damage, liver cancer, or liver failure—all of which can be fatal.

Last Updated March 19, 2010