Hepatitis

Hepatitis is liver inflammation that affects your liver's ability to function. Viral hepatitis is hepatitis caused by a virus. There are several different types that can cause viral hepatitis including hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and hepatitis E.

Hepatitis: What You Need to Know

Prevention

You can prevent hepatitis A and B with a vaccination. Reducing your exposure is the best way to prevent hepatitis C or E. That means avoiding any way you could come into contact with infected blood for hepatitis C or water for hepatitis E. Always practice cleanliness and avoid drinking tap water if you travel.

Personalized Care

Our approach features a personalized, multisystem evaluation that includes your risk for portal hypertension, liver cancer and the possible need for a future liver transplant. Our approach also covers management of these issues.

Experienced, Trusted Expertise

Fletcher Allen treats more than 200 hepatitis patients every year. More than 40 receive antiviral medications for hepatitis C and B. We offer three board certified subspecialists, including one with certification in Transplant Hepatology.

What is Hepatitis?

There are many types of hepatitis, each caused by a different virus:

  • Hepatitis A is a very contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. A hepatitis A vaccine is available. The condition usually resolves on its own over several weeks.
  • Hepatitis B is a serious liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus. In some people, hepatitis B infection becomes chronic, which can lead to liver failure, liver cancer or cirrhosis of the liver (permanent liver scarring). There is no cure for the disease, but a hepatitis B vaccine can prevent it. Most adults infected with hepatitis B recover fully, even with severe hepatitis symptoms. Infants and children are much more likely to develop a chronic infection. Medications are available to treat chronic hepatitis.
  • Hepatitis C is generally considered the most serious viral hepatitis disease. The infection is caused by the hepatitis C virus, which attacks and inflames the liver. Most people with the hepatitis C virus infection have no symptoms so they don't even know they're infected until years later when routine medical tests show liver damage. There is no hepatitis C vaccine, but there are antiviral medications available to treat the condition.
  • Hepatitis E is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis E virus. The disease is uncommon in the United States. Hepatitis E is spread through food or water that's contaminated with an infected person's feces. There is no U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved hepatitis E vaccine, but the infection usually resolves on its own over several weeks to months.

The viruses spread various ways such as: through contaminated food or water, contact with infected blood, sexual contact with an infected person or in rare cases from a mother to her child during childbirth.

Not everyone has hepatitis symptoms, but they can include:

  • Your skin and the whites of your eyes turn yellow (called jaundice)
  • Tiredness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Low grade fever
  • Headache

Diagnosis and Treatment: Hepatitis

Learn more about hepatitis diagnosis and treatment.

Find a Fletcher Allen physician or call 802-847-8865.