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What are the Common Signs of Hepatitis in Children?

By K. Gierok
Updated May 17, 2024
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Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that is most commonly caused by viral or bacterial infection. The symptoms of hepatitis in children can vary quite a bit, depending on the type of hepatitis that the child is suffering from. In acute and chronic hepatitis, children often experience a decreased appetite, and high amounts of nausea and vomiting. Those diagnosed with hepatitis A usually have pale stools and may be very itchy. In hepatitis B, children usually have pain in the joints and red, blotchy, itchy bumps on their skin.

In acute hepatitis in children, the most common signs typically include a loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, and a high fever. In addition, children who are suffering from an acute bout of hepatitis may also experience pain in the upper right portion of the abdomen. As the acute hepatitis worsens, children may experience symptoms such as darkening urine and yellow eyes. This is one of the most classic symptoms of acute hepatitis in children, and is typically one of the primary triggers that can lead to a hospital or doctor's office visit.

In hepatitis A, children may experience symptoms that are dramatically different from those experienced during acute hepatitis. In this condition, children often have pale stools as well as a high amount of itching over the entirety of the body. Hepatitis A is a relatively rare condition, particularly in children, and can be prevented through the use of a vaccine. In many places, school-age children are required to have a hepatitis A vaccine before starting school.

The classic signs of hepatitis B in children include pain in the elbows, knees, and other joints of the body, as well as red, blotchy skin that may have itchy bumps. As with hepatitis A, hepatitis B is relatively rare in children, due to the fact that it is typically transmitted only through sexual contact. Studies have shown that is some cases, however, it can also be transmitted from a mother to her unborn child. In addition, hepatitis B can occur in instances of child abuse or rape. Prevention vaccines are also available for hepatitis B.

The symptoms of chronic hepatitis in children include a loss of appetite, fatigue, fever, and abdominal discomfort. These symptoms are almost identical to those of acute hepatitis, though they last for a longer amount of time — usually at least six months. When left untreated, chronic hepatitis in children can lead to liver damage and even liver cancers.

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