Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A, B, C, D, E: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment for most common diseases in India
Photo: CDC

Hepatitis A, also called hep A, is a contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. Some people have only a mild illness that lasts a few weeks. Others have more severe problems that can last months. You usually get the disease when you eat or drink something contaminated by poop from a person who has the virus.

The hepatitis A virus usually isn’t dangerous. Almost everyone who has it gets better. But because it can take a while to go away, you’ll need to take care of yourself in the meantime.

Hepatitis A Symptoms

If you have this infection, the virus is causing inflammation in your liver. Some people, especially many children, don’t have symptoms. Others might have:

  • Jaundice (yellow eyes and skin)
  • Belly pain
  • Dark urine
  • Loss of appetite
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Itching
  • Pale-colored poop
  • Joint pain
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue

These problems tend to go away after about 2 months but might keep coming back for up to 6 months.

You can spread the hepatitis A virus even if you feel fine. You can also spread it about 2 weeks before your symptoms appear and during the first week after they show up.

Hepatitis A Risk Factors

You could be at higher risk of getting the disease if you:

  • Have close contact with someone who's infected
  • Travel to countries where hepatitis A is common
  • Are homeless
  • Use recreational drugs, even without needles
  • Have a blood clotting disorder like hemophilia
  • Work with primates
  • Have HIV

Also at higher risk are:

  • Men who have sex with men
  • Kids in child care and their teachers

Hepatitis A Treatment

No medication can get rid of the hepatitis A virus once you have it. Your doctor will treat your symptoms -- they may call this supportive care -- until it goes away. They’ll also do tests that check how well your liver is working to be sure your body is healing like it should.

You can take these steps to make yourself more comfortable:

  • Get some rest. You’ll probably feel tired and sick and have less energy than usual.
  • Try to keep food down. The nausea that sometimes comes with hepatitis A can make it tough to eat. It may be easier to snack during the day than to eat full meals. To make sure you get enough nutrients, go for more high-calorie foods and drink fruit juice or milk instead of water. Fluids will also help keep you hydrated if you’re throwing up.
  • Avoid alcohol. It’s harder for your liver to handle medications and alcohol when you have the virus. Plus, drinking can lead to more liver damage. Tell your doctor about any medications you take, including over-the-counter drugs, as these might also hurt your liver, cites webmd.

Hepatitis B is an infection of your liver. It’s caused by a virus. There is a vaccine that protects against it. For some people, hepatitis B is mild and lasts a short time. These “acute” cases don’t always need treatment. But it can become chronic. If that happens, it can cause scarring of the organ, liver failure, and cancer, and it even can be life-threatening.

It’s spread when people come in contact with the blood, open sores, or body fluids of someone who has the hepatitis B virus.

It's serious, but if you get the disease as an adult, it shouldn’t last a long time. Your body fights it off within a few months, and you’re immune for the rest of your life. That means you can't get it again. But if you get it at birth, it’ unlikely to go away.

“Hepatitis” means inflammation of the liver. There are other types of hepatitis. Those caused by viruses also include hepatitis A and hepatitis C.

Hepatitis B Symptoms

Short-term (acute) hepatitis B infection doesn’t always cause symptoms. For instance, it’s uncommon for children younger than 5 to have symptoms if they’re infected.

If you do have symptoms, they may include:

  • Jaundice (Your skin or the whites of the eyes turn yellow, and your pee turns brown or orange.)
  • Light-colored poop
  • Fever
  • Fatigue that persists for weeks or months
  • Stomach trouble like loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting
  • Belly pain
  • Joint pain

Symptoms may not show up until 1 to 6 months after you catch the virus. You might not feel anything. About a third of the people who have this disease don’t. They find out only through a blood test.

Symptoms of long-term (chronic) hepatitis B infection don’t always show up, either. If they do, they may be like those of short-term (acute) infection.

Hepatitis B Causes and Risk Factors

It’s caused by the hepatitis B virus, and it can spread from person to person in certain ways. You can spread the hepatitis B virus even if you don’t feel sick.

The most common ways to get hepatitis B include:

  • Sex. You can get it if you have unprotected sex with someone who has it and your partner’s blood, saliva, semen, or vaginal secretions enter your body.
  • Sharing needles. The virus spreads easily via needles and syringes contaminated with infected blood.
  • Accidental needle sticks. Health care workers and anyone else who comes in contact with human blood can get it this way.
  • Mother to child. Pregnant women with hepatitis B can pass it to their babies during childbirth. But there’s a vaccine to prevent newborns from becoming infected.

Hepatitis B doesn’t spread through kissing, food or water, shared utensils, coughing or sneezing, or through touch.

Hepatitis B Treatment

If you think you’ve been exposed to the virus, get to a doctor as soon as possible. The earlier you get treatment, the better. They’ll give you a vaccine and a shot of hepatitis B immune globulin. This protein boosts your immune system and helps it fight off the infection.

If you do get sick, your doctor may put you on bed rest to help you get better faster.

You’ll have to give up things that can hurt your liver, like alcohol and acetaminophen. Check with your doctor before taking any other drugs, herbal treatments, or supplements. Some of them can harm this organ, too. Also, eat a healthy diet.

If the infection goes away, the doctor will tell you you’re an inactive carrier. That means there’s no more virus in your body, but antibody tests will show that you had hepatitis B in the past.

There were 3,218 new cases of HBV infection estimated by the CDC in 2016 and more than 1,698 people died due to the consequences of chronic hepatitis B infection in the United States according to the CDC.

About 5% to 10% of patients with HBV hepatitis develop chronic HBV infection (infection lasting at least six months and often years to decades) and can infect others as long as they remain infected. Patients with chronic HBV infection also are at risk of developing cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer. It is estimated that there are 2.2 million people in the U.S. and 2 billion people worldwide who suffer from chronic HBV infections, according to medicinenet.

What is hepatitis C?

Hepatitis A, B, C, D, E: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment for most common diseases in India
Photo: Webmd

Hepatitis C is a disease that causes inflammation and infection of the liver. This condition develops after being infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Hepatitis C can be either acute or chronic.

Unlike hepatitis A and B, there’s no vaccine for hepatitis C, although efforts to create one continue. Hepatitis C is highly contagious, which explains the high number of people with the disease.

Hepatitis C Symptoms

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that approximately 70 to 80 percent of people with hepatitis C don’t have symptoms. While this is true, some people report mild to severe symptoms. These symptoms include:

  • fever

  • dark urine
  • loss of appetite
  • abdominal pain or discomfort
  • joint pain
  • jaundice

The symptoms may not show up right away. Some may take six to seven weeks to appear.

How do you get hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is transmitted through blood-to-blood contact with someone infected with HCV. It can be spread through:

  • organ transplants

  • blood transfusions
  • sharing items such as razors or toothbrushes
  • sharing needles
  • child birth (from a mother with hepatitis C to her baby)
  • sexual contact if blood is exchanged

People who have a high risk of infection with HCV include those who have:

  • had a blood transfusion before 1992
  • received an organ transplant
  • received clotting factor concentrates or other blood products before 1987
  • received hemodialysis treatment for a long period
  • been born to a mother with hepatitis C
  • had a sexual partner who’s infected with hepatitis C
  • used needles that have been used before

Hepatitis C Treatment

Not everyone infected with hepatitis C will need treatment. For some people, their immune systems may be able to fight the infection well enough to clear the infection from their bodies. If this is the case for you, your doctor will probably want to monitor your liver function with regular blood tests.

For people with immune systems that can’t clear the infection, there are several options for treating hepatitis C. Treatment is usually reserved for people with serious liver damage and scarring, and no other conditions that prevent treatment.

Past hepatitis C treatment regimens required weekly injections for 48 weeks. This treatment had the risk of significant and sometimes life-threatening side effects. Newly developed antiviral medications now have higher cure rates and fewer adverse side effects. They also require a shorter treatment period. Your doctor may decide whether antiviral treatment is likely to provide more benefit than harm, reports healthline.

What is Hepatitis D?

Hepatitis A, B, C, D, E: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment for most common diseases in India
Photo: News Medical

Hepatitis D is a viral infection that causes liver inflammation (swelling of the tissue which occurs due to injury or infection) and damage. Symptoms are typically similar to those of the flu, and the infection is transmitted through the sharing of contaminated needles or bodily fluids.

Hepatitis D or hepatitis delta virus is a small ribonucleic acid (RNA) particle that causes infection only in the presence of the hepatitis B virus. It is estimated that about 15 million people carrying hepatitis B virus worldwide are infected by the hepatitis D virus.

Symptoms of hepatitis D infection

Usually, symptoms of acute hepatitis D recover within 1 to 3 months. The symptoms of chronic hepatitis D are relatively mild, and occur in waves. Most of the symptoms of hepatitis D are mistakenly referred to more common illnesses such as flu or gastroenteritis. In rare cases, patients with hepatitis D experience no symptoms at all.

Hepatitis D symptoms are not easily differentiable from hepatitis A and B infection. The symptoms of acute hepatitis D infection include:

  • High body temperature (100.4°F or above)
  • Fatigue (feeling of tiredness)
  • Loss of appetite (reduced desire to eat)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Clay-colored bowel movements
  • Joint pain
  • Jaundice
  • Cirrhosis (chronic liver damage)
  • Hepatocellular (liver) cancer

In contrast, the population with chronic hepatitis D have fewer symptoms than those with acute hepatitis D until complications develop, which could be several years after they were infected. Some symptoms of chronic hepatitis D include:

  • Weakness and tired feeling
  • Weight loss
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Swelling of the ankles (edema)
  • Itching of skin
  • Jaundice

Transmission of hepatitis D

Infection with hepatitis D virus has worldwide distribution, although, there are some considerable geographic differences which cause uneven prevalence across the globe.

In Northern Europe and the United States, where hepatitis B infection is not endemic, infection is most common in people who regularly use illegal intravenous drugs. Much of the population in these areas have been vaccinated against HBV, lowering the rate of infection further.

In the areas where hepatitis D virus is endemic, such as the Mediterranean Basin, the parenteral route is the most common cause of hepatitis D virus transmission, features news medical.

Hepatitis D virus is transmitted in several ways. It can pass via blood, or contact with other body fluids such as semen, vaginal fluid, or saliva of an infected person.

  • Sexual contact (sexual transmission is less effective than the parenteral exposure, and also hepatitis D infection is not common in the hepatitis B positive homosexual men)
  • Contaminated blood transfusion receivers, hemophilic patients, injectable drug users, and professionals who are exposed to blood contact (usually population living in the highly endemic areas of hepatitis B virus infection)
  • Family contact among the hepatitis B virus carriers
  • Tattoo or body piercing with infected tools
  • Sharing the infected objects such as a toothbrush, razor, or manicure tools
  • From infected mother to their baby during the birth (very rare)

Hepatitis D is not transmitted through:

  • Being coughed or sneezed at by an infected person
  • Drinking water or eating food
  • Hugging an infected person
  • Shaking or holding hands with an infected person
  • Sharing spoons, forks, and other eating utensils
  • Sitting next to an infected person

How is hepatitis treated?

There are no known treatments for acute or chronic hepatitis D. Unlike other forms of hepatitis, current antiviral medications don’t seem to be very effective in treating HDV.

You may be given large doses of a medication called interferon for up to 12 months. Interferon is a type of protein that may stop the virus from spreading and lead to remission from the disease. However, even after treatment, people with hepatitis D can still test positive for the virus. This means that it’s still important to use precautionary measures to prevent transmission. You should also remain proactive by watching for recurring symptoms.

If you have cirrhosis or another type of liver damage, you may need a liver transplant. A liver transplant is a major surgical operation that involves removing the damaged liver and replacing it with a healthy liver from a donor. In cases where a liver transplant is needed, approximately 70 percent of people live 5 years or longer after the operation.

What Is Hepatitis E?

Hepatitis E is a virus that infects your liver. It can cause your liver to swell up.

Most people with hepatitis E get better within a few months. Usually it doesn’t lead to long-term illness or liver damage like some other forms of hepatitis do. But hepatitis E can be dangerous for pregnant women or anyone with weak immune systems, including the elderly or people who are ill.


The hepatitis E virus spreads through poop. You can catch it if you drink or eat something that has been in contact with the stool of someone who has the virus. Hepatitis E is more common in parts of the world with poor handwashing habits and lack of clean water. It happens less often in the U.S., where water and sewage plants kill the virus before it gets into the drinking supply.

You also can get hepatitis E if you eat undercooked meat from infected animals, such as pigs or deer. Less often, you can get the virus from raw shellfish that comes from tainted water.


You might not have any. If you do have symptoms, they may start anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks after your infection. They may include:

  • Mild fever
  • Feeling very tired
  • Less hunger
  • Feeling sick to your stomach
  • Throwing up
  • Belly pain
  • Dark pee
  • Light-colored poop
  • Skin rash or itching
  • Joint pain
  • Yellowish skin or eyes


Your doctor will ask for your medical history and details about your symptoms. Tell your doctor about any recent travel. Tell them if you think you might have had contact with water contaminated by sewage, reports webmd.

Your doctor will use a blood test or a stool test to diagnose hepatitis E.


In most cases, hepatitis E goes away on its own in about 4-6 weeks. These steps can help ease your symptoms:

  • Rest
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Drink lots of water
  • Avoid alcohol
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