Hepatitis refers to a group of viral diseases that affect the liver and often cause inflammation and other complications in this organ. There are a variety of different types of hepatitis, and they are classified with different letter designations, such as hepatitis A, B, C, etc. Many who have hepatitis aren’t aware of it.
The different types of hepatitis are identified by the virus that causes them. Hepatitis A, for example, does not cause a chronic infection or liver disease. It is primarily passed from person to person or through contaminated food, and it can be prevented by a vaccination.
Hepatitis B, on the other hand, is much more serious and can lead to long-term problems such as scarring of the liver, liver failure, liver cancer and even death. It is transmitted through contact with blood, mucus or other bodily fluids. Hepatitis C is quite similar to hepatitis B. Both diseases often only cause an acute illness rather than a chronic infection.
You can also get hepatitis D or E, which are rarer forms of hepatitis. Hepatitis D is actually a complication of chronic hepatitis B, and only those who already have a hepatitis B infection will get it. Hepatitis E is similar to hepatitis A in that it doesn’t cause a chronic infection, but there is not a vaccine for this form of hepatitis.
Prevention and Treatment
The most common chronic forms of hepatitis, B and C, are passed from person to person through practices such as sharing drug needles, sharing things like razors or toothbrushes or having unsafe sex with an infected person. So it’s important to avoid practices like this to prevent spreading the infection. Immunizations also play a key role in preventing the spread of hepatitis
If you contract a minor form of hepatitis, it will typically go away on its own over time. If it becomes chronic hepatitis, however, there are medications that can help manage the condition and prevent it from getting worse. Chronic hepatitis cannot be cured, but regular use of medications can often prevent complications such as liver damage, liver failure or liver cancer.
SOURCES: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; World Hepatitis Alliance.
When people find out they have the infection, they're more likely to stay off drugs
Study from Taiwan finds link between aspirin use and reduced cancer risk
Drug users, the homeless most affected; county has launched vaccination effort
Program will also save $350 billion in health care costs by 2020, study says
Shot should come within 24 hours of delivery, and not at first checkup
A chronic viral infection of the liver
If successful in people, it could ease shortage of transplant organs, MIT scientist says
Agency head calls persistent geographic gap a 'significant public health problem'
It's now fifth-leading cause of cancer death in men and No. 8 among women
3-drug mixture was nearly 100 percent effective in drug company trials
Many stemmed from rising use of injected drugs linked to the current opioid epidemic, officials say
Doctors say they cleared hepatitis C in organ recipients, perhaps shortening transplant waits
Rural counties seem hardest hit, researcher says
Screening for the often-silent disease remains key, especially in baby boomers
Previously allowed only for adults
Ills include HIV, hepatitis and the serious blood infection sepsis, study suggests
New study adds to evidence that these conditions might be linked somehow
Plus, 90,000 fewer deaths would occur by 2030, study authors estimate
But not everyone responds completely to the medicines and cost remains a big obstacle, researchers say
Screening rates for the dangerous virus remain low despite recommendations, study finds
CDC panel revises immunization advisory for vaccines affecting adults
Yet, many drug users still share needles sometimes, report finds
Danish study finds greater association in those hospitalized with HIV or hepatitis
Study highlights more fallout from opioid epidemic
Combination drug treats six major forms of HCV
And researchers say alcohol can worsen the chronic liver condition
CDC notes that nearly 20,000 Americans died in 2014 from the widespread, but treatable, illness
Inexpensive antivirals could be a game-changer in many countries, researchers say
If findings are confirmed, treatment could cut number of patients on waiting lists, researchers say
Findings might help reduce organ waiting list, researchers say
Researcher sees need for improved screening, treatment
Vaccine for hepatitis B and drugs that cure hepatitis C infection are giving health officials new hope
But there's been a concerning increase in liver cancer, experts say
Liver disease affects some 3 million Americans
Health officials blame lapses in infection control practices
People with the virus also nearly 30 percent more likely to develop the nervous system disorder, researchers say
Half of all injection drug users live in rural, suburban areas
But another study shows treating all infections would save more than $3 billion in long run
Routine testing could prevent transmission, reduce health care costs, researcher says
But experts say these types of medications have good safety profile
Cautionary label will be added to Viekira Pak and Technivie, agency says
But researchers add that it's critical to expand vaccination base
Outbreaks of measles, hepatitis A could be prevented if people were fully immunized, researchers say
If left undetected, it can lead to liver failure and even death, study authors note
Researchers note emergency room doctors could play a role in slowing spread of potentially deadly virus
For people with a genetic subtype of the liver infection
In one state, only one from 183 diagnosed cases met reporting criteria for CDC