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The initial signs of hepatitis often mimic those of a common cold or flu. Symptoms such as nausea and vomiting are frequently observed, along with a loss of appetite. A less common symptom is jaundice; this condition can make the skin and whites of the eyes appear yellow. Other potential signs of hepatitis include itchiness, a change in stool color, and an aching abdomen. Chronic hepatitis can result in a number of more severe symptoms including liver cancer and a buildup of scar tissue.
Many people with hepatitis will initially not experience any major symptoms. If signs of hepatitis do occur, they can often be mistaken for the flu. Along with a loss of appetite, nausea, fever, tiredness, and vomiting are all common symptoms. A person may also suffer from an aching abdomen or a general feeling of weakness. During this initial stage, it can be hard to differentiate between hepatitis and a variety of other illnesses.
One of the most common signs of hepatitis is jaundice. A person with hepatitis accumulates more of a certain chemical, known as bilirubin, in the skin. This leads to a yellow appearance, although not everyone with the condition will experience this. A healthy person’s liver is able to remove the chemical and break it down; a damaged liver is no longer able to perform this job adequately, however. A person with hepatitis may also notice a similar discoloration in the urine and the whites of the eye.
There are other, less common signs of hepatitis. A hepatitis sufferer might suffer from itchiness on the skin, for example, or lighter colored stools. The severity of the symptoms varies from person to person and can also depend on the type of hepatitis. Hepatitis A, B, and C have similar signs, but there are some differences. Hepatitis B, for example, has very similar symptoms to hepatitis A, but is more likely to cause chronic problems and permanent liver damage.
All forms of hepatitis cause inflammation in the liver. If a person suffers from the condition over an extended period of time, usually known as chronic hepatitis, more severe problems can occur. Liver cancer, for example, is a possible outcome if hepatitis C cannot be adequately controlled. Scarring of the liver, known as liver cirrhosis, can also occur after a period of chronic hepatitis. This is why some people with the condition need to be monitored in the hospital.