Liver Health

Updated 09 March 2016

Symptoms of hepatitis B

Symptoms of HBV infection may include general malaise, fever, decreased appetite and nausea and vomiting.

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HBV infection often has no symptoms, especially in infants and young children.

Non-specific symptoms of hepatitis include the following:

  • Flu-like illness
  • Generally feeling unwell
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Fever
  • Decreased appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting

"Hepatitis" simply means that the liver is inflamed. More specific signs that indicate inflammation of the liver include:

  • Pain in the right upper abdomen under the ribs (the area of the liver)
  • A yellow tinge to the eyes and skin (jaundice)

When to see a doctor

Any of the symptoms above would require a visit to the doctor. The following are potentially serious symptoms which definitely require immediate attention:

  • Persistent vomiting for longer than six hours
  • Extreme drowsiness, confusion or restlessness
  • Unusual bruising or bleeding
  • Jaundice continuing for longer than three weeks 

Read more: 

What is hepatitis B?

Preventing hepatitis B 

Treating hepatitis B

Revised and reviewed by Dr Karin Richter, MMed Path (Medical Virology), FC Path(SA) Viro, Dip HIV Man (SA), Dip Obst (SA), MBChB , Clinical Virologist, Senior Lecturer, Department of Medical Virology, University of Pretoria, Faculty of Health Sciences, and Consultant Pathologist, Tshwane Academic Division, National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS) February 2015.

Previously reviewed by Dr Eftyhia Vardas BSc (Hons), MBBCh, DTM&H, DPH, FC Path (Virol), MMed (Virol), Clinical Virologist, Director HIV AIDS Vaccine Division,