Viral hepatitisViral hepatitis is inflammation of the liver caused by a virus. Several different viruses, named the hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E viruses, cause viral hepatitis.
All of these viruses cause acute, or short-term, viral hepatitis. The hepatitis B, C, and D viruses can also cause chronic hepatitis, in which the infection is prolonged, sometimes lifelong. Chronic hepatitis can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer.
Researchers are looking for other viruses that may cause hepatitis, but none have been identified with certainty. Other viruses that less often affect the liver include cytomegalovirus; Epstein-Barr virus, also called infectious mononucleosis; herpes virus; parvovirus; and adenovirus.
Symptoms of viral hepatitisSymptoms include
- jaundice, which causes a yellowing of the skin and eyes
- abdominal pain
- loss of appetite
- low grade fever
Points to Remember
- Viral hepatitis is inflammation of the liver caused by the hepatitis A, B, C, D, or E viruses.
- Depending on the type of virus, viral hepatitis is spread through contaminated food or water, contact with infected blood, sexual contact with an infected person, or from mother to child during childbirth.
- Vaccines offer protection from hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
- No vaccines are available for hepatitis C, D, and E. Reducing exposure to the viruses offers the best protection.
- Hepatitis B, C, and D can be chronic and serious. Drugs are available to treat chronic hepatitis.
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