Many people with hepatitis go undiagnosed, because the disease is mistaken for the flu or because there are no symptoms at all. The most common symptoms of hepatitis are:
Loss of appetite
Muscle or joint aches
Nausea and vomiting
Less common symptoms include:
Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
Altered mental state, stupor, or coma
A virus that causes hepatitis can be spread from one person to
another. Hepatitis B, C, and D viruses are spread when an uninfected person
comes in contact with blood, semen, or vaginal fluid (including menstrual
blood) that is infected with one of these viruses. Hepatitis A and E viruses
are spread by contaminated food and water or by coming in direct contact with
contaminated stool (feces). Hepatitis E also might be spread by contact with an infected pig. Hepatitis E is very rare in developed countries.
Hepatitis D only occurs along with hepatitis B.
In their early stages, these viruses are difficult to tell apart.
But within several weeks after infection occurs, blood tests can show
which of the viruses is the cause of hepatitis (with the exception of hepatitis
E, for which a blood test is not widely available).
The following viruses are less common causes of hepatitis and can be
diagnosed using blood tests: