Only some people with hepatitis B experience symptoms, which usually develop two or three months after exposure to the hepatitis B virus.

Many people infected in adulthood won't experience any symptoms and will fight off the infection without realising they had it.

However, they'll still be able to pass the virus on to others while they're infected.

Read more about how hepatitis B is spread.

Main symptoms of hepatitis B

Symptoms of hepatitis B can include:

Many of these symptoms can be mistaken for more common illnesses, such as flu or gastroenteritis.

How long do symptoms of hepatitis B last?

Hepatitis B in adults will usually pass within one to three months. This is known as acute hepatitis B and rarely causes any serious problems.

Occasionally, the infection can last for six months or more. This is known as chronic hepatitis B.

Chronic hepatitis B mainly affects babies and young children who get hepatitis B. It's much less common in people who become infected later in childhood or when they're an adult.

The symptoms of chronic hepatitis B are the same as those mentioned above, but they tend to be quite mild and may come and go. Some people may not have any noticeable symptoms.

However, without treatment, people with chronic hepatitis B can develop problems such as scarring of the liver (cirrhosis).

Read more about treatments for hepatitis B and complications of hepatitis B.

Page last reviewed: 21/03/2016

Next review due: 21/03/2018