Also known as liver inflammation

Hepatitis is a disease caused by inflammation of the liver. It usually results from infection with a virus, but there are also non-viral forms of the disease, including hepatitis brought on by the use of certain drugs, alcohol abuse, and autoimmune disease. 

Hepatitis can be acute (lasting just a few weeks to a few months), cause few, if any, symptoms, and resolve on its own. It can also be chronic, meaning inflammation persists for six months or longer. Chronic hepatitis can lead to serious and even life-threatening complications, such as cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver failure.

There are effective vaccines for two of the viral forms: hepatitis A and hepatitis B.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is hepatitis contagious?

    Five viruses can cause hepatitis: hepatitis A virus (HAV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), hepatitis D virus (HDV), hepatitis E virus (HEV). Some forms are transmitted by contaminated food, water, and stool. Others are primarily transmitted by blood or bodily fluids. Preventative measures include washing your hands, using condoms, avoiding shared needles, and vaccination.

  • How is hepatitis spread?

    Hepatitis A and E mainly spread through contaminated food or water. Hepatitis B spreads through blood and bodily fluids and is spread during sex, needle sharing, and from a pregnant woman to her baby. Hepatitis C mostly spreads through blood. Hepatitis D also spreads through blood and body fluids and only infects those already infected with Hepatitis B.

  • How do you get hepatitis?

    The causes can be broadly categorized as infectious, metabolic, or autoimmune. Viral hepatitis, especially hepatitis B and C, is the most common form. There is also autoimmune hepatitis that may be caused by a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors and toxic hepatitis caused by excessive alcohol use, toxic chemicals, or drugs.

  • Which hepatitis is the worst?

    Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are the most common viral causes of chronic hepatitis and liver damage. Hepatitis B is particularly dangerous for infants. Approximately 90% of infants with HBV develop chronic infections. There is no cure for HBV, but there is a vaccine to prevent it.

  • Can hepatitis be cured?

    Viral infections often clear on their own. If the condition becomes chronic, there is no cure for Hepatitis B. Medications, especially direct-acting antivirals, are able to cure hepatitis C in most cases, yet may be cost prohibitive to many people. Hepatitis A or E resolve on their own and do not result in chronic illness.

Key Terms
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How Long Hepatitis Viruses Can Live Outside the Body
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Hepatitis Types, Symptoms, and Treatments
Explore the Different Types of Viral Hepatitis
The hepatitis C virus.
Worldwide Hepatitis Statistics
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Why Choose a Hepatologist Over a Gastroenterologist
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Symptoms of Hyperbilirubinemia (Elevated Bilirubin)
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The Immune System and Its Role in Hepatitis
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Being an Organ Donor If You Have Hepatitis
How Do Microbes Make People Sick With Hepatitis?
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The Many Vital Functions of the Liver
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How Bile Helps Your Digestion
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Liver Failure: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment
Hepatitis B positive
HBsAg or Hepatitis B Surface Antigen Test
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How Hepatitis E Is Different From Other Viruses
Needle sharing is one way Hepatitis B spreads.
How Is Hepatitis B Transmitted?
Hepatitis B virus, illustration
What You Need to Know About Hepatitis B and Your Eyes
Hepatitis B Image
How Do I Get Tested for Hepatitis B/HBV?
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Hepatitis B Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Coping
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Is Hepatitis A the Same as Hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B virus
The Digestive Disease Known as Hepatitis B
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How Does the Hepatitis A Virus Spread?
nurse preparing hepatitis b vaccine
How Celiac Disease Makes the Hepatitis B Vaccine Less Effective
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Peritoneal Fluid in Hepatitis Infections
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The Link Between Arthritis, Arthralgia, and Hepatitis
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Digestive System Anatomy for Hepatitis Patients
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Symptoms and Signs of Acute Viral Hepatitis
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Symptoms of Jaundice in Viral Hepatitis
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The Link Between Hepatitis and Liver Cancer
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Hepatitis and Thyroid Disease: What's the Link?
CC license at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgmOFzVinFA
What to Do If You Have HIV and Viral Hepatitis
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Myalgia as a Symptom of Viral Hepatitis
Mavyret (glecaprevir and pibrentasvir)
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Treating Hepatitis B With Lamivudine
A pegylated interferon drug.
Treating Hepatitis With Pegylated Interferon
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Doctors and Specialists Who Can Treat Hepatitis
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Pegasys Medication Side Effects
The Hepatitis C virus.
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Ribavirin Drug and Treatment for Hepatitis C
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Do I Qualify for a Liver Transplant?
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Hepatitis C Treatment and Sustained Virologic Response
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Immune Globulin for Treating Viral Hepatitis
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Treating Hepatitis A With Immune Globulin
Harvoni (ledipasvir + sofosbuvir)
List of FDA-Approved Hepatitis C Drugs
Medication Overload
Opioid Drug Use and the Risk of Hepatitis C
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Hepatitis C in Males: Signs, Symptoms, and Complications
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Ensuring Proper Vitamin Intake Can Help Combat Hepatitis C
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The Hepatitis C virus.
Hepatitis C Virus: Signs, Symptoms, and Complications
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How Hepatitis C Virus Is Diagnosed
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How Hepatitis C Is Treated
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Page Sources
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  1. National Cancer Institute. Breast Cancer Risk in American Women. Updated October 3, 2019.

  2. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. What is viral hepatitis? Updated May 2017.