Hepatitis B is viral liver infection, and people who have been exposed to the virus should be on the lookout for the signs of hepatitis B. Within a few months of infection, patients might experience nonspecific symptoms such as fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, joint pain, nausea or vomiting. Symptoms more easily identified as potential signs of hepatitis B include dark urine, pale stools and jaundice. Some people, however, especially small children, do not display any of these symptoms, and it is important to note that this disease might be identified conclusively only through a blood test.
Like other varieties of hepatitis, hepatitis B is an inflammation of the liver. This particular infection is caused by the hepatitis B virus, most often passed on through the sexual activity or intravenous drug use. Children born to mothers carrying the virus are at risk of infection, and healthcare workers who frequently come into contact with bodily fluids are also at risk of exposure to the virus.
Symptoms and signs of hepatitis B usually develop between one and four months after the person becomes infected. Approximately 30 percent of people who are infected, however, do not display any symptoms. Infants and children in particular are less likely to display signs of hepatitis B during an infection. In cases where symptoms are present, the severity ranges from very mild to severe.
Many of the signs of hepatitis B are not specific to the disease, and they resemble flu symptoms. Patients may experience a loss of appetite or tiredness. They may become nauseous or vomit. Joint pains are common as well. These symptoms could easily be misdiagnosed, especially if they are not especially severe.
Other signs of hepatitis B are less general, and while not completely specific, tend to indicate a problem with the liver. Patients might experience abdominal pain under the right side of the rib cage, where the liver is situated. Urine might darken, taking on a color similar to tea or cola, and bowel movements might be pale. Jaundice, another strong indication of liver complaints, might be observed as well.
With so many of the signs of hepatitis B vague, and with the possibility for very mild symptoms or no sign of the disease at all, identifying hepatitis B can be difficult. Patients who are aware of exposure to the virus, as well as people experiencing symptoms that are causing concern, should seek medical attention. A diagnosis for hepatitis B might be confirmed only through a blood test.