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What Is Hepatitis And What Causes It

What Causes The Different Types

What is Hepatitis? | What are its causes and risk factors? | Apollo Hospitals

The type of virus that’s causing your hepatitis affects how severe your disease is and how long it lasts.

Hepatitis A. You usually get it when you eat or drink something that’s got the virus in it. It’s the least risky type because it almost always gets better on its own. It doesn’t lead to long-term inflammation of your liver.

Even so, about 20% of people who get hepatitis A get sick enough that they need to go to the hospital. There’s a vaccine that can prevent it.

Hepatitis B. This type spreads in several ways.You can get it from sex with someone who’s sick or by sharing a needle when using street drugs. The virus also can pass from mothers to their newborn child at birth or soon afterward.

Most adults with hepatitis B get better, but a small percentage can’t shake the disease and become carriers, which means they can spread it to others even when their own symptoms disappear.

Hepatitis C. You get this type if you have contact with contaminated blood or needles used to inject illegal drugs or draw tattoos.

Sometimes you don’t get any symptoms, or just mild ones. But in some cases hepatitis C leads to cirrhosis, a risky scarring of your liver.

Hepatitis D happens only if you’re already infected with hepatitis B. It tends to make that disease more severe.

It can be spread from mother to child and through sex.

Like hepatitis A, you usually get it by eating or drinking something that’s been contaminated with the virus.

Who Should Get The Hepatitis A Vaccine

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that all children in the U.S. get vaccinated against hepatitis A at age 12 months. However, if an infant aged 6-11 months will be traveling to a country with a significant number of people with hepatitis A, the child should get one dose before leaving the U.S. The child should then get 2 doses separated by 6 to 18 months when the child is between 12 months and 23 months.

You should also get the hepatitis A vaccine if you fall into one of the following groups:

  • Men who have sexual contact with other men.
  • Users of any type of illegal drugs.
  • People with blood clot disorders, such as hemophilia.
  • People who have chronic liver disease.
  • Homeless people.
  • People who will be closely involved with a person being adopted from a country with high rates of hepatitis A infections.

What Are The Treatments For Hepatitis A

If you have not had the vaccine, and your infection has been confirmed by a blood sample, your healthcare provider might give you the hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin . This only works if the medicine is given within two weeks of you being exposed to HAV.

If you were exposed and are unable to get the vaccine or the immune globulin, you are likely to recover without treatment. However, your healthcare provider will probably recommend that you follow the following self-care recommendations:

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Review any type of medicineprescription and over-the-counterthat you take with your healthcare provider. Even things like supplements or vitamins could cause damage to your liver.

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Acute Vs Chronic Infection

Doctors distinguish between chronic and acute infection with hepatitis viruses. Acute infection is a short-term condition, lasting under six months. Chronic infection is a long-term condition, lasting more than six months.

Hepatitis B infection can be either acute or chronic. Most people who get acute hepatitis B dont end up progressing to chronic hepatitis B. By contrast, acute hepatitis C tends to develop into chronic hepatitis C. Approximately 7585 percent of adults newly infected with hepatitis C develop a chronic infection, according to the CDC . Others clear the infection.

When you get acute hepatitis C you may or may not have symptoms. Most cases of acute hepatitis C are asymptomatic, meaning people dont notice the symptoms. Symptoms are only noticeable in 15 percent of cases of acute hepatitis C.

Favorite Sites For Hep C Products

What You Need to Know About Hepatitis C

Hep C can now be cured with an 8- to 12-week course of medication. The pharmaceutical companies that produce these drugs all present useful information and, in some cases, details on how to get the medication at a lower cost. Here are the latest hep C drugs approved by the FDA:

Additional reporting by Laura McArdle.

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Hepatitis B: How Does It Spread

You can get it through contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person. In the U.S., it’s most often spread through unprotected sex. It’s also possible to get hepatitis B by sharing an infected person’s needles, razors, or toothbrush. And an infected mother can pass the virus to their baby during childbirth. Hepatitis B is not spread by hugging, sharing food, or coughing.

Hepatitis C And The Hep C Virus

Hepatitis C is a liver infection that can lead to serious liver damage. Its caused by the hepatitis C virus. About 2.4 million people in the U.S. have the disease. But it causes few symptoms, so most of them don’t know. The virus spreads through an infected persons blood or body fluids.

There are many forms of the hepatitis C virus, or HCV. The most common in the U.S. is type 1. None is more serious than any other, but they respond differently to treatment.

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Are There Complications From Hepatitis A

In extremely rare cases, hepatitis A can lead to acute liver failure. This complication is most common in older adults and people who already have chronic liver disease. If this occurs, you will be hospitalized. Even in cases of liver failure, a full recovery is likely. Very rarely is a liver transplant required.

What Are The Risk Factors For Hepatitis B And C

What is Hepatitis B ? Hepatitis B Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Hepatitis B: Although most commonly acquired early in life, adults can also contract it. Hepatitis B is largely transmitted through bodily fluids. It can be passed at birth from a hepatitis B-infected mother or through exposure in early childhood to body fluids, blood or contaminated medical instruments. Hepatitis B can also be transmitted through intranasal and injection drug use as well as infected tools used during tattooing and body piercing.

Hepatitis C: The key risk factors are also intranasal and injection drug use, tattoos and body piercings, high-risk sexual contact, blood transfusions before 1992 and organ transplantation.

Another key risk factor for hepatitis C is being born from 1945 to 1965, during the baby-boom years. Eighty percent of all people who currently have hepatitis C in the United States were born in that timeframe.

Although the reasons that baby boomers are more likely to have hepatitis C than others arent entirely understood, its believed that most were infected in the 1970s and 1980s, when rates of hepatitis C were at their peak.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommend that all U.S. adults born from 1945 to 1965 undergo a one-time screening test for hepatitis C. Connecticut is one of several states that has written this recommendation into law. In Connecticut ,the law requires that primary care clinicians screen all adults born within those years.

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What Is The Treatment For Hepatitis B

If you are exposed to the virus, an immunoglobulin injection and hepatitis B vaccine given within 12 to 24 hours can reduce the risk of hepatitis B infection. These are called prophylactic treatment.

In many cases of acute hepatitis B, treatment may not be needed. Rest, proper nutrition, and hydration will help the immune system fight off the virus, allowing for a full recovery. In some situations, antiviral medications or hospitalization may be required.

For people with chronic hepatitis B, treatment may be necessary to prevent liver damage and reduce the risk of transmitting the virus. This includes treatment with antiviral medications like entecavir , telbivudine , adefovir , and tenofovir , and lamivudine . An alternative to these antiviral medications is Interferon alfa-2b injections. Interferon is a man-made version of a protein that the immune system naturally produces to fight infection.

If chronic hepatitis leads to liver cancer, the treatment will depend on the extent or stage of the cancer. Imaging tests are done to determine the size and location of the cancer and whether it has spread to other parts of the body. Based on the stage of the cancer, the oncologist will determine if surgery to remove the tumor or chemotherapy or radiation is needed.

What Causes Hepatitis

There are different types of hepatitis, with different causes:

  • Viral hepatitis is the most common type. It is caused by one of several viruses — hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D, and E. In the United States, A, B, and C are the most common.
  • Alcoholic hepatitis is caused by heavy alcohol use
  • Toxic hepatitis can be caused by certain poisons, chemicals, medicines, or supplements
  • Autoimmune hepatitis is a chronic type in which your body’s immune system attacks your liver. The cause is not known, but genetics and your environment may play a role.

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How Serious Is It

  • People can be sick for a few weeks to a few months
  • Most recover with no lasting liver damage
  • Although very rare, death can occur
  • 15%25% of chronically infected people develop chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis, liver failure, or liver cancer
  • More than 50% of people who get infected with the hepatitis C virus develop a chronic infection
  • 5%-25% of people with chronic hepatitis C develop cirrhosis over 1020 years

Causes Of Hepatitis C

Alcoholic hepatitis: Symptoms, treatment, and outlook

Hepatitis C is an infection that can be transmitted through contact with body fluids. The virus is detectable in the blood, semen, and vaginal secretions of someone infected. Approximately 3% of people who contract hepatitis C will become chronic carriers. The symptoms may not present for years or decades after the initial infection. Signs include fever, fatigue, abdominal pain, yellow eyes and skin, and joint pain.

There are many causes of hepatitis C. Some of the most common causes include blood transfusions, intravenous drug use, and sexual intercourse with an infected person.

Hepatitis C is a disease of the liver that can be debilitating, causing mental and emotional problems for sufferers. To prevent the spread of the disease, it is important to understand what causes Hepatitis C. There are two main types of hepatitis that a person can get: Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. These viruses are usually contracted from eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated by fecal matter.

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Causes Of Hepatitis D

Hepatitis D is an infection that can lead to chronic liver disease. Its contracted through the same way as Hepatitis B, but it cant be treated with any of the same treatments. The virus enters the body by entering through the mouth, nose, or broken skin. The virus is found in blood and bodily fluids, so its easily transmitted.

Hepatitis D is a virus that can be life-threatening, and it is found exclusively in people who carry the Hepatitis B virus. Hepatitis D can be spread through contact with infected blood, saliva or sexual fluids. Symptoms of the virus include fatigue, nausea and vomiting, and jaundice. Hepatitis D is usually asymptomatic but can be fatal if left untreated.

Hepatitis D is often seen as a liver disease that can be caused by an infected persons blood coming in contact with an uninfected person. But the disease may also be transmitted sexually through contact with semen and vaginal fluids. The virus can also spread from person to person through shared needles or paraphernalia used to inject drugs. Hepatitis D is typically more serious than its counterpart, Hepatitis B.

What Happens To Your Liver When You Get Hepatitis B

When the hepatitis B virus enters the body, it attacks liver cells. The liver cells then become swollen and inflamed and are unable to work properly.

Most people exposed to hepatitis B experience an acute hepatitis B infection that causes acute hepatitis. During the acute infection, liver cells are sick and not working properly but the liver is still able to function. Healthcare providers will check blood work called liver function tests to monitor the livers progress. For most people, the liver will start to heal on its own over a period of months, and liver function tests will return to normal.

For some people, damage to liver cells will continue. This damage is part of a chronic hepatitis B infection. When damage to the liver continues, a person can develop liver cancer as well as scarring of the liver, which is called cirrhosis.

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Facts About Viral Hepatitis

Viral hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by a virus. The most common hepatitis viruses in Europe are types A, B, C and E .

Even though their effects on the liver and the symptoms they produce can be similar, the severity and duration of the disease are determined by the virus that caused it. While HAV infection is typically caused by ingestion of contaminated food or water and causes an acute infection, hepatitis B and C usually occur as a result of contact with infected body fluids and can develop into a chronic infection. Together, HBV and HCV are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer.

Causes And Risk Factors


HCV causes hepatitis C. People contract the virus through blood-to-blood contact with contaminated blood. For transmission to occur, blood containing HCV must enter the body of a person without HCV.

A speck of blood, invisible to the naked eye, can carry hundreds of hepatitis C virus particles, and the virus is not easy to kill.

The report the following risk factors for developing hepatitis C:

  • using or having used injectable drugs, which is currently the most common route in the U.S.
  • receiving transfusions or organ transplants before 1992, which is before blood screening became available
  • having exposure to a needle stick, which is most common in people who work in healthcare
  • being born to a mother who has hepatitis C

The CDC offer advice on cleaning syringes if it is not possible to use clean and sterile ones. Although bleach can kill the HCV in syringes, it may not have the same effect on other equipment. Boiling, burning and using alcohol, peroxide, or other common cleaning fluids to wash equipment can reduce the amount of HCV but might not stop a person from contracting the infection.

It is extremely dangerous to inject bleach, disinfectant, or other cleaning products, so people should make sure they rinse the syringe thoroughly. A person should only ever use bleach to clean equipment if new, sterile syringes and equipment are not available.

People who are at risk due to these factors can have screening to rule out HCV.

  • peginterferon alfa-2a
  • sofosbuvir

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What Are The Types Of Hepatitis

There are many types of hepatitis which cause symptoms that range from mild to very serious.

Five types of viral hepatitis are:

  • hepatitis A an illness that can last from a few weeks to 6 months
  • hepatitis B a serious infection that can lead to liver damage
  • hepatitis C a disease that is now easily treatable
  • hepatitis D a disease that only affects people infected with hepatitis B, and is a rarer type of hepatitis in Australia
  • hepatitis E a short-term illness that can be severe in pregnant women, but is rare in Australia

There are other types of hepatitis that are not infectious, including:

  • autoimmune hepatitis

Having one type of hepatitis doesnt stop you from getting other types.

Hepatitis Caused By Toxins

  • The most common cause is excessive alcohol over a prolonged time. Alcoholic hepatitis is reversible if alcohol is reduced, but can go on to cause longer-term liver damage .
  • Medication – some medicines can cause liver inflammation as a side-effect.
  • Haemochromatosis – an unusual condition where the body stores too much iron, can cause hepatitis.
  • Wilson’s disease – an unusual condition where liver damage is caused by copper excess in the body.

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Hepatitis And The Liver

Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. The liver is important for a range of functions in the body. These include regulating metabolism, making proteins, storing vitamins and iron, removing toxins and producing bile.

If the liver doesnt work properly, it can cause serious illness or sometimes even death.

Hepatitis may be caused by infection, viruses, chemicals, alcohol and other drug use and other factors.

Chronic hepatitis means ongoing inflammation of the liver, irrespective of the underlying cause.

What Is Hepatitis C

What Is Alcoholic Hepatitis: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

Like hepatitis B, the hepatitis C virus spreads from person to person through blood or other body fluids, and can lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer. The most common way people become infected is by sharing drug paraphernalia such as needles and straws. People also can get hepatitis C from unprotected sex with an infected partner. And it can be passed from an infected mother to her unborn baby.

Hepatitis C is the most serious type of hepatitis. It’s now one of the most common reasons for liver transplants in adults. Scientists have been trying for decades to develop a hepatitis C vaccine, but none has been successful yet. Fortunately, medicines can now treat people with hepatitis C and cure them in most cases.

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