Hepatitis A | Overview

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What is hepatitis?

Hepatitis is a general term for inflammation of the liver. Normally, the liver breaks down waste products in your blood. But when the liver is inflamed, it doesn’t do a good job of getting rid of waste products. This causes waste products to build up in your blood and tissues.

Many different things can cause hepatitis. The most common cause of hepatitis is infection with one of the 5 hepatitis viruses (A, B, C, D, or E). Lack of blood supply to the liver, poison, autoimmune disorders, excessive alcohol use, an injury to the liver, and taking certain medicines can also cause hepatitis. Less commonly, viral infections such as mononucleosis or cytomegalovirus can cause hepatitis.

There are 2 main kinds of hepatitis: acute hepatitis (short-lived) and chronic hepatitis (lasting at least 6 months). Most people get over the acute inflammation in a few days or a few weeks. Sometimes, however, the inflammation doesn't go away. When the inflammation doesn't go away in 6 months, the person has chronic hepatitis.

What is hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is liver inflammation caused by the hepatitis A virus. Hepatitis A is very contagious, which means that you can easily catch the virus from someone or give it to another person.

Hepatitis A is different from other types of hepatitis. It isn't typically as serious as hepatitis B or C, and it doesn't usually develop into chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis.

Source

Hepatitis A by SC Brundage M.D., M.P.H. and AN Fitzpatrick, M.P.H. (American Family Physician June 15, 2006, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20060615/2162.html)

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 03/14
Created: 06/06

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