Hepatitis

Introduction
Hepatitis A
Hepatitis B
Hepatitis C

Introduction

Your liver is the largest organ inside your body. It helps your body digest food, store energy, and remove poisons. Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver.

Viruses cause most cases of hepatitis. The type of hepatitis is named for the virus that causes it; for example, hepatitis A, hepatitis B or hepatitis C. Drug or alcohol use can also cause hepatitis. In other cases, your body mistakenly attacks healthy cells in the liver.

Some people who have hepatitis have no symptoms. Others may have

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dark-colored urine and pale bowel movements
  • Stomach pain
  • Jaundice, yellowing of skin and eyes

Some forms of hepatitis are mild, and others can be serious. Some can lead to scarring, called cirrhosis, or to liver cancer.

Sometimes hepatitis goes away by itself. If it does not, it can be treated with drugs. Sometimes hepatitis lasts a lifetime. Vaccines can help prevent some viral forms.

Hepatitis A

Your liver is the largest organ inside your body. It helps your body digest food, store energy, and remove poisons. Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. One type, hepatitis A, is caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). The disease spreads through contact with an infected person's stool. You can get it from

  • Eating food made by an infected person who did not wash their hands after using the bathroom
  • Drinking untreated water or eating food washed in untreated water
  • Putting into your mouth a finger or object that came into contact with an infected person's stool
  • Having close contact with an infected person, such as through sex or caring for someone who is ill

Most people do not have any symptoms. If you do have symptoms, you may feel as if you have the flu. You may also have yellowish eyes and skin, called jaundice. A blood test will show if you have HAV.

HAV usually gets better in a few weeks without treatment. However, some people can have symptoms for up to 6 months. Your doctor may suggest medicines to help relieve your symptoms.

The hepatitis A vaccine can prevent HAV. Good hygiene can also help. Wash your hands thoroughly before preparing food, after using the toilet, or after changing a diaper. International travelers should be careful about drinking tap water.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B (HBV) spreads by contact with an infected person's blood, semen, or other body fluid. An infected woman can give hepatitis B to her baby at birth.

If you get HBV, you may feel as if you have the flu. You may also have jaundice, a yellowing of skin and eyes, dark-colored urine, and pale bowel movements. Some people have no symptoms at all. A blood test can tell if you have it. HBV usually gets better on its own after a few months. If it does not get better, it is called chronic HBV, which lasts a lifetime. Chronic HBV can lead to scarring of the liver, liver failure, or liver cancer.

There is a vaccine for HBV. It requires three shots. All babies should get the vaccine, but older children and adults can get it too. If you travel to countries where Hepatitis B is common, you should get the vaccine.

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) usually spreads through contact with infected blood. It can also spread through sex with an infected person and from mother to baby during childbirth.

Most people who are infected with hepatitis C don't have any symptoms for years. If you do get symptoms, you may feel as if you have the flu. You may also have jaundice, a yellowing of skin and eyes, dark-colored urine, and pale bowel movements. A blood test can tell if you have it. Usually, hepatitis C does not get better by itself. The infection can last a lifetime and may lead to scarring of the liver or liver cancer. Medicines sometimes help, but side effects can be a problem. Serious cases may need a liver transplant.

There is no vaccine for HCV.

Above information directly from the NIH. 

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