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, 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 B and how is it transmitted?
Hepatitis B is a serious liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus. The virus is usually spread from person to person through contact with blood and/or body fluids of someone who has the infection.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff