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What are the symptoms of hepatitis B?

Page last updated 26 June 2018

Symptoms are that of hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) including:

  • Fever
  • Malaise (generally feeling unwell)
  • Abdominal pain (particularly right side, under the ribs)
  • Nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite
  • Dark coloured urine
  • Clay (light) coloured stool (poo)
  • Myalgia (muscle aches)
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes).

Hepatitis B may present with no symptoms, which means the person may not know they have the infection and may be unwittingly spreading the virus to other people. 

In most cases the symptoms (if present) appear three months after initial exposure to the virus, however, this can range from six weeks to six months. Most adults will make a complete recovery from the infection; however, most infants and about half of young children will persist to a chronic infection for the rest of their lives. 

Chronic hepatitis B infection carries with it an increased risk of liver cirrhosis (scarring) and liver cancer.


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Sources & Citations

  1. Australian Government, Department of Health, Australian Immunisation Handbook 10th Edition, 4.5 Hepatitis B. Available at (accessed 5 April 2018).
  2. NSW Government, Department of Health, Hepatitis B fact sheet. Available at (accessed 5 April 2018).
  3. Victorian State Government, Better Health Channel, Hepatitis B. Available at (accessed 5 April 2018).
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hepatitis B FAQs for the Public. Available at (accessed 5 April 2018).

SPANZ.SAPAS.18.04.0173a - Date of preparation May 2018