Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver tissue. Hepatitis may be temporary (acute) or long term (chronic) depending on whether it lasts for less than or more than six months.
Acute hepatitis can sometimes resolve on its own, progress to chronic hepatitis, or rarely result in acute liver failure. Over time the chronic form may progress to scarring of the liver, liver failure, or liver cancer.
There are five main types of viral hepatitis: type A, B, C, D, and E.
Hepatitis A and E are mainly spread by contaminated food and water.
Hepatitis B is mainly sexually transmitted, but may also be passed from mother to baby during pregnancy or childbirth.
Both hepatitis B and hepatitis C are commonly spread through infected blood such as may occur during needle sharing by intravenous drug users or tattoo parlors who don't properly sterilize needles.
Hepatitis D can only infect people already infected with hepatitis B.
The most common cause of hepatitis worldwide is viruses. Other causes include heavy alcohol use, certain medications, toxins, other infections, autoimmune diseases, and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
Hepatitis A, B, and D are preventable with immunization. Medications may be used to treat chronic cases of viral hepatitis. There is no specific treatment for NASH. Autoimmune hepatitis may be treated with medications to suppress the immune system.
A liver transplant may also be an option in certain cases.
Here ar six things people diagnosed with hepatitis C want you to know about their illness: