Hepatitis Overview

Hepatitis comes from the ancient Greek word hepar which means liver and the Latin word itis which means inflammation. Thus, hepatitis is a medical condition defined by a liver inflammation. This disease can lead to a yellow discoloration of the skin.

hepatitis overviewWhen hepatitis lasts for six months or less, it usually heals by itself and is often called acute (illness can be healed in a short period of time). On the other hand, if it has not been healed for a longer period of time is called chronic and can lead to a complication called liver cirrhosis.

The three most common types of viral hepatitis are hepatitis A, B, and C.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is caused by the contamination of food or water. The hepatitis A virus (HAV) can also be acquired when a person ingests food that has been contaminated with feces from an HAV positive person. The virus can be transmitted through close physical contact. It can cause inflammation and swelling of the liver but luckily, this type of hepatitis is acute and can be completely cured without any long-term damage to the body. A person who has been positive for the Hep A virus and has been successfully treated develops lifelong antibodies and rarely acquires the disease again.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a kind of sexually transmitted disease or STD. It is commonly transmitted through body fluids such as blood, semen, and vaginal discharge. A person may acquire a hepatitis B infection by having unsafe sex, sharing of needles with an HBV positive person, getting a tattoo using unsterilized tools, and getting blood transfusion from an infected person. Some Hep B infections are acute and can be easily treated. However, most Hep B cases that last for more than six months are considered chronic and can lead to other liver complications such as liver cirrhosis. Infants and young children who have been exposed to HBV are at very high risks of getting the disease.

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is caused by the transmission of the blood of a person who is positive for the disease. Injection drug users are the leading high-risk people for Hep C. Those who have had blood transfusions or transplants can also possibly acquire the virus, but there are rarely reported cases nowadays due to blood screenings. Children who are born to HCV-positive mothers can also acquire the disease. Most people with hepatitis C infections do not experience any symptoms for years. Aside from that, most hep C infections are chronic and can lead to liver cirrhosis and liver cancer which are both fatal.

Globally, there are more or less a million people getting infected with hepatitis A, 300 million people are positive for hepatitis B, and about 250 million people are affected with hepatitis C.

Aside from viral hepatitis, other common causes of hepatitis include:

  1. Alcoholic hepatitis: Too much intake of alcohol can damage the liver and result to having hepatitis. It is suggested that only 80 grams of alcohol for men and 40 grams for women should be taken in a day. For people taking in excess of that in a day have a high risk of getting alcoholic hepatitis. This can also lead to acquiring cirrhosis which is most common in patients infected with Hep C.
  2. Drug-induced hepatitis: Too much intake of medical drugs can also cause hepatitis. The most common cause of drug-induced hepatitis is the constant intake of paracetamol and antibiotics. Taking herbal and dietary supplements are also a cause of this disease.


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