This page contains details about the different symptoms of hepatitis B and health conditions which may be linked to chronic hepatitis B.

What are the signs and symptoms of viral hepatitis B?

Most of the people living with viral hepatitis B do not present with signs and symptoms (asymptomatic).

When symptoms do occur, it is not uncommon for healthcare professionals to mistake your symptoms for another, more common medical condition.

Presenting with any of these signs and symptoms does not confirm you are hepatitis B positive however you can only do so through a medical blood test.

Early symptoms

During the first 6 months of infection (acute hepatitis B infection), approximately 1 in 5 persons present with one or more of these signs and symptoms:

  • Jaundice (yellow color in the skin or eyes)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Dark urine
  • Pale stools
  • Stomach ache
  • Clay-colored bowel movements
  • Fatigue (body tiredness)
  • Nausea
  • Joint pain
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain

Late symptoms

If you have lived with hepatitis B for more than 6 months (chronic hepatitis B infection), you are more likely to experience these symptoms.

Most people with chronic hepatitis B do not have any symptoms, do not feel ill, and remain symptom free for decades. When and if symptoms do appear, they are like the symptoms of a new infection, but can also be a sign of advanced liver disease. 

About 1 in 4 people who become chronically infected during childhood and about 15% of those who become chronically infected after childhood will eventually die from serious liver conditions, like cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) or liver cancer. Some people still do not have symptoms even after their liver becomes diseased, although certain blood tests for liver function might show some abnormalities.

Chronic hepatitis B can develop into a serious disease resulting in long-term health problems, including liver damage, liver failure, liver cancer, and even death.

Symptoms can vary drastically from person to person – with some people barely noticing any problems at all and others becoming very unwell.

Without treatment, symptoms may also go away and return over many years.