Symptoms of Hepatitis B

Key points

  • Many people with hepatitis B don't look or feel sick, especially young children.
  • If hepatitis B symptoms occur, it is typically a few months after exposure.
  • Contact your doctor if you experience any symptoms of hepatitis B or if you think you've been exposed.
A man sitting in a doctor's office speaking with a medical professional

Signs and symptoms

Many people with chronic hepatitis B don’t have symptoms and don’t know they are infected. If symptoms occur with an acute infection, they can appear any time between 8 weeks to 5 months after exposure. Symptoms usually last several weeks, but some people can feel sick for as long as 6 months.

Symptoms of hepatitis B

Symptoms of acute hepatitis B can include:

  • Dark urine or clay-colored stools
  • Feeling tired
  • Fever
  • Joint pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea, stomach pain, throwing up
  • Yellow skin or eyes (jaundice)

Up to half of all older children, adolescents, and adults experience symptoms of acute hepatitis B. However, most children younger than 5 have no symptoms.

Symptoms of chronic hepatitis B can take decades to develop and may be similar to those of an acute infection.

Keep in mind‎

Even if you don't have symptoms, you can still pass hepatitis B to someone else.

Preventing hepatitis B‎

Vaccination is the best way to prevent hepatitis B. Learn more about preventing and controlling hepatitis B.

When to talk to your doctor

If you are concerned that you might have hepatitis B, you should talk to your doctor and get tested. Since many people don’t experience symptoms, testing is the best way to diagnose hepatitis B.