When you experience inflammation in the liver, it could be due to a viral infection called hepatitis. Contributing factors to hepatitis include alcohol consumption, some medications, and other health conditions. There are several variations of hepatitis, including A, B, C, D, and E, which range from acute to chronic diseases. Each type has its own prevention methods that can reduce your chances of infection.
Hepatitis A is a contagious disease transmitted by the “fecal-oral route”—in other words, through person-to-person contact or through contact with contaminated water or food. An essential fact about hepatitis A that the public should know is that it’s an acute, short-term disease; with treatment, the liver can recover within a handful of months. Vaccination is the primary prevention method against hepatitis A.
Hepatitis B can spread in different ways. It can transmit through sexual encounters with an infected person, through shared needles, and between mothers and their newborns. Most patients recover from hepatitis B, but there are a few lifelong, chronic cases. However, hepatitis B can be prevented with a vaccine.
Hepatitis C is one of the leading causes of liver disease in the US, and it’s the main cause of liver transplants. It’s a bloodborne viral infection that can be transmitted through shared needles or contaminated blood cells. One may experience only mild symptoms, but ultimately, it can lead to cirrhosis, a serious risk to your liver. No vaccine is available for hepatitis C; you can prevent spread by avoiding used and unsanitary needles.
Hepatitis D only occurs in people who are already infected with the hepatitis B virus. It’s a rare form of hepatitis, causing liver inflammation, similar to other strains. But as long as someone is vaccinated against hepatitis B, they don’t have to worry about contracting hepatitis D.
Hepatitis E is a waterborne disease found in poor-sanitation areas and often transmitted through the ingestion of fecal matter contaminating a local water supply. It’s an uncommon disease, but it’s particularly dangerous for pregnant women. Thankfully, vaccines are available, but only in limited areas.
Hepatitis is a risky disease that can harm your liver. But as long as you’re vaccinated against the hepatitis strains and avoid specific situations, you won’t have to worry about contraction.