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What Do Hepatitis Symptoms Look Like in Children?

May 9, 2022

What Do Hepatitis Symptoms Look Like in Children?

 

More than 190 cases of hepatitis of unknown cause in children worldwide as of May 2022

 

The Ministry of Health in Singapore said a local baby had contracted hepatitis of unknown cause in April this year after being diagnosed with COVID-19 in December last year.

 

What is hepatitis?

 

Hepatitis is a broad term used to describe inflammation of the liver. The liver performs hundreds of essential functions every day, from helping with digestion to removing toxins from the blood. When the liver is inflamed or damaged, many of these tasks cannot be completed.

 

"Acute" hepatitis is an inflammation that occurs relatively quickly and lasts no more than six months. It can be severe and lead to liver failure. However, hepatitis can also be relatively mild. It is not uncommon for patients - especially children - to develop inflammation of the liver during a simple, uncomplicated viral disease.

 

What symptoms should parents be aware?

 

Hepatitis symptoms are widespread and overlap with many common illnesses. Children with hepatitis may have fever (low grade or worse), fatigue, joint or muscle pain, loss of appetite or nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting.

 

  • Pain or pressure in the abdomen (especially in the upper right abdomen, where the liver is located)
  • Dark urine, or pale or clay-coloured stools
  • Jaundice, or yellowing of the skin and eyes

 

Jaundice may be more difficult to detect in children with darker skin tones, so parents should take the slightest change in colour seriously.

 

Often, one does not see 'obvious' jaundice until liver inflammation or dysfunction has progressed to a fairly serious degree!

 

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