Symptoms - Hepatitis B

Only some people with hepatitis B experience symptoms, which usually develop 2 or 3 months after exposure to the hepatitis B virus.

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

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

Find out 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 1 to 3 months. This is known as acute hepatitis B and rarely causes any serious problems.

Occasionally, the infection can last for 6 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 tend to be quite mild and may come and go. Some people may not have any noticeable symptoms.

But without treatment, people with chronic hepatitis B can develop problems like scarring of the liver (cirrhosis).

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

Page last reviewed: 30/01/2019
Next review due: 30/01/2022