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Hepatitis : Symptoms
Western Medicine Chinese Medicine

Hepatitis A:
The symptoms of hepatitis A are a result of the liver damage caused by the virus. However, not all persons infected with hepatitis A will see symptoms. For example, older people are more likely to experience symptoms than children. Those who have the virus will experience physical symptoms including fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, and jaundice a condition seen through the yellowing of the skin and eyes. Most of the symptoms will disappear within two months after diagnosis. However, there have been rare cases where life-threatening liver failure occurs and a liver transplant is required.

Hepatitis B:
Hepatitis B's symptoms are generally similar to hepatitis A, but they tend to be more severe and last longer. On a positive note most patients infected with the hepatitis B virus will recover completely within six months and develop immunity against the disease. However, one to 10% of adult persons infected with acute hepatitis B virus will develop chronic hepatitis, and babies are at higher risk for this complication. Infants are especially vulnerable to the virus because of their immature immune systems. The chances of chronic hepatitis in an infant are as high as 90%; Life-threatening liver failure can occur in 1% of patients with acute hepatitis B and may require liver transplantation. Patients chronically infected with hepatitis B virus are at risk for developing cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Hepatitis C:
Most patients with hepatitis C do not have noticeable symptoms. Symptoms, when they do occur, include fatigue, abdominal discomfort, poor appetite, weight loss and itching. Life-threatening acute liver failure due to hepatitis C is extremely rare.

At present, western medicine distinguishes viral hepatitis by its acute and chronic forms. According to TCM's viewpoint, jaundice, regional pain over the liver area, fatigue and poor appetite are characteristic of acute hepatitis. Chronic hepatitis is characterized by symptoms of with nausea, regional pain over the liver, abdominal distension and fatigue.

Click here to see hepatitis development from a TCM perspective

1. Fever, aversion to heat, fatigue and soreness of limbs
Initially heat and dampness evils impair the protective-qi, which is one kind of yang-qi. Food and drink are digested in the stomach and spleen and converted into protective-qi. This kind of qi keeps skin intact of skin as well as regulates perspiration. This function prevents the evils from invading the body and causing illness. Therefore when protective qi cannot function properly, heat symptoms, also known as an exterior disease pattern, will result.
2. Poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, abdominal fullness, and weak limbs
These symptoms occur when the evils such as dampness and heat accumulate in the middle burner, which is where the spleen and stomach are located. This affects the absorption, digestion, transformation and transport of nutrients leading to the above symptoms.
3. Yellow coloring of skin and eyes (jaundice), dark color urine, or itchy skin
When dampness and heat evils are dominant, the liver and gall-bladder can become damaged, leading to liver qi and blood stagnation. This causes bile to leak out from the gall-bladder (located under the liver), and eventually gives rise to dark yellow colored skin, eyes and urine also known as jaundice.
4. Bleeding tendencies such as nasal bleeding, restlessness or unconsciousness
When strong contagious evils such as poisonous agents attack the internal organs that affect blood circulation, bleeding occurs. If the evils invade the upper part of the body they can disturb the brain's mental activities.
5. Depression, anxiety, emotional instability, pain that distends into the upper lateral region of the abdomen, and abdominal mass
These symptoms occur when the liver cannot regulate the flow of blood and qi, which leads to chest discomfort and affects the emotions. Stagnation of blood and qi for a long period obstructs the gall-bladder meridian and the liver meridian , which can cause regional pain over the liver area or the development of an abdominal mass.
6. Pale complexion, malaise, fatigue, and muscle spasms
When dampness and heat evils damage the liver or spleen for a prolonged amount of time, the liver and spleen become dysfunctional and the ability to absorb nutrients declines. As a result, the production of essence stored in the kidney decreases along with blood, and the muscles lose nutrients and develop spasms.
7. Abdominal distention
In the final stage of the disease, not only do the liver and spleen become impaired, but the kidney is also affected. The resulting qi stagnation, blood stasis and metabolic imbalance gives rise to symptoms like ascites.

In addition to the above symptoms, TCM practitioners will also diagnose individuals with a particular disharmony pattern which is discussed under the diagnosis section.