Hepatitis Health Center

Viral hepatitis is inflammation of the body's liver through infection by virus. There are different kinds of viruses that can cause the condition, currently the hepatitis A, B, C, D and E viruses. The hepatitis B, C and D viruses can also cause chronic hepatitis, where the disease is prolonged, sometimes lasting a lifetime. The chronic form of infection can lead to such complications as cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer.

Common symptoms of hepatitis include fatigue, jaundice, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and headache among others. The viruses can be spread in a variety of ways, such as through contaminated food or drink (hepatitis A and E), contact with infected blood, sexual contact with an infected individual or from mother to newborn through birth (hepatitis B, C and D).

There are vaccines available to protect against hepatitis A and hepatitis B, but there is currently no vaccine for hepatitis C, D and E. Hepatitis A and hepatitis E typically resolve on their own within weeks or months. Hepatitis B, C and D can be chronic and more serious than types A and E. However, there are medications available to treat chronic hepatitis.

Review Date: 
September 4, 2012
Last Updated:
June 2, 2014