Hepatitis is an infection and inflammation of the liver. There are several types of infectious hepatitis, caused by different viruses. Some types of hepatitis, particularly hepatitis B, can be transmitted sexually.
The three main viral types of hepatitis include Hepatitis A, B and C, and are explained in the chart below.
Other Hepatitis Types
Other types of viral hepatitis include hepatitis D, which only develops in people who have hepatitis B, and hepatitis E, which is more common in parts of the developing world where there is poor sanitation.
What Are Symptoms of Hepatitis?
Many people with hepatitis have no symptoms when they first contract the virus. When symptoms of hepatitis A, B, or C occur, they include:
- Flu-like illness early on
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice)
- Dark-colored urine
- Light- or clay-colored stools
- Loss of appetite
- Pain under the ribs on the right side of the abdomen
- Joint pain
Hepatitis A may also cause additional symptoms, such as:
- Itchy skin
- Liver damage that can lead to death (rare)
- Muscle aches
- Weight loss
How Is Hepatitis Diagnosed?
Viral hepatitis is diagnosed with a patient history, a physical examination, and blood tests. Blood tests show which type of hepatitis is present and can be used to determine the proper treatment.
Other tests may be indicated to check for liver damage, including:
- Liver scan
- Liver biopsy
Is Hepatitis Curable?
Each type of hepatitis is treated differently.
Hepatitis A often goes away on its own. Home treatment to help the liver recover, usually includes:
- Avoiding alcohol
- Avoiding certain medicines that can be harmful to the liver (never stop taking a prescribed medication without first talking to your doctor)
Hepatitis B often goes away on its own in about 6 months, and can also be treated at home with the above remedies. Other treatments for hepatitis B include:
- Antiviral medications
- Regular monitoring for signs of liver damage
- Liver transplant in severe cases
Medications for hepatitis C are effective on certain forms of the hepatitis C virus. The choice of medications depends on the type of hepatitis C you have, whether you have been treated for the illness before, how much liver damage has occurred, any other underlying medical issues, and other medicines you take. Treatment for hepatitis C usually involves 8 to 12 weeks of oral antiviral medications, such as:
- Elbasvir-grazoprevir (Zepatier)
- Glecaprevir-pibrentasvir (Mavyret)
- Ledipasvir-sofosbuvir (Harvoni)
- Peginterferon alfa-2a (Pegasys)
- Peginterferon alfa-2b (Pegintron)
- Ribavirin (Copegus, Rebetol, Ribasphere)
- Sofosbuvir (Sovaldi)
- Sofosbuvir-velpatasvir (Epclusa)
- Sofosbuvir-velpatasvir-voxilaprevir (Vosevi)
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