Hepatitis can be caused by a viral infection, alcohol consumption, or certain medications. Your symptoms will depend on whether you have hepatitis A, B, C, D, or E.
Hepatitis is a condition in which your liver becomes inflamed. This can result in a number of symptoms, including diarrhea. It’s especially associated with hepatitis A.
With that said, not everyone with hepatitis will experience diarrhea.
Hepatitis A, formerly known as infectious hepatitis, is an acute (short-term) type of hepatitis caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV).
People usually develop hepatitis A after consuming food or liquid contaminated with fecal matter that contains the hepatitis A virus.
Hepatitis involves inflammation of the liver.
A healthy liver processes nutrients from foods and filters your blood to prevent illness and infections. When your liver is infected and inflamed, your liver isn’t always able to carry out these jobs correctly.
As a result, your digestive system can’t properly absorb nutrients, which can cause nausea, vomiting, and changes in your stool.
Your digestive system needs bile to work correctly. Bile is created by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. An inflamed liver might produce less bile.
This can lead to light-colored stools — as bile makes your stools dark brown — and it might cause looser stools or diarrhea.
Although it’s unclear whether or how hepatitis could cause IBS, researchers suggest that hepatitis might affect the gut microbiome.
The following hepatitis treatments could cause stomach problems:
- elbasvir-grazoprevir (Zepatier)
- glecaprevir and pibrentasvir (Mavyret)
- peginterferon (Pegasys)
- ribavirin (Rebetol)
Typically, these side effects can be managed with home remedies. Consult a healthcare professional if you’re experiencing constant diarrhea due to hepatitis treatment.
If you suspect you have hepatitis, it’s important to speak with your doctor.
They can determine whether you have hepatitis and run tests to see how the condition has affected your liver. They can also determine which type of hepatitis you have.
Hepatitis A is a short-term infection that often goes away without treatment.
In the meanwhile, your clinician might suggest ways to prevent transmitting the infection to others. This can include abstaining from oral, anal, and vaginal sex and practicing good hygiene in the bathroom and kitchen.
The following might help you treat hepatitis-related diarrhea at home:
- Drink plenty of water and other clear fluids like broth and weak tea.
- Try an oral rehydration solution, such as Pedialyte.
- Rest and avoid excessive physical activity.
- Eat bland foods. The BRAT diet in particular may help.
You should also consider avoiding:
- greasy, spicy, or rich foods
- foods that typically cause you stomach pain or loose stools
Over-the-counter diarrhea medication might help. However, your liver is responsible for processing medication, so your clinician might suggest avoiding over-the-counter medications altogether until your diarrhea clears up.
As such, it’s good to check with your clinician before using any medication.
Is diarrhea common with certain types of hepatitis?
Diarrhea may be a common symptom of hepatitis A. It can also occur in other kinds of hepatitis, including hepatitis B and C.
Is diarrhea associated with a specific stage of hepatitis?
Not necessarily. Although diarrhea can be an early symptom of hepatitis, it can also occur at other stages.
Can hepatitis treatment cause diarrhea?
Yes. Depending on the type of hepatitis you have, you might have to use antiviral medication. Antiviral medications can sometimes cause diarrhea, which can be an uncomfortable side effect of hepatitis treatment. Hepatitis treatment can also cause nausea or vomiting.
Ask your clinician if you should take your medication with food or on an empty stomach, and let them know if you’re experiencing diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting.
What other symptoms are associated with hepatitis?
Aside from diarrhea, the symptoms of hepatitis can include:
- abdominal pain
- dark urine
- flu-like symptoms
- loss of appetite
- pale stools
- unexplained weight loss
- yellow skin and eyes, which can be signs of jaundice
What else can cause diarrhea?
Diarrhea can be caused by a range of conditions and issues, including:
- alcohol consumption
- antibiotic use
- bacterial or viral infections
- food poisoning
- lactose intolerance
- side effects of medication
There are many home remedies for diarrhea that can help soothe your stomach and keep you hydrated.
Although diarrhea can usually be managed at home, it’s a good idea to consult with a clinician if your diarrhea lasts longer than 3 days.
One major risk of diarrhea is dehydration. Seek medical attention if you show signs of dehydration, like:
- decreased urination
- extreme thirst
Consider going to the emergency room if you have:
The above symptoms can be signs of illnesses that need immediate medical attention.
Hepatitis can, in some cases, cause diarrhea. Diarrhea can also be a side effect of certain hepatitis treatments.
Usually, you can manage your diarrhea at home. But if your diarrhea lasts more than 3 days or is accompanied by other unusual symptoms, consult with a doctor or other healthcare professional.
Sian Ferguson is a freelance health and cannabis writer based in Cape Town, South Africa. She’s passionate about empowering readers to take care of their mental and physical health through science-based, empathetically delivered information.