Hepatitis means “inflammation of the liver”. It can be brought on by alcohol, drugs, viruses and other toxins. Viral hepatitis refers to hepatitis resulting from infection of the liver by viruses. These include the hepatitis A, B, C, D and E viruses. They all infect the liver, giving rise to inflammation and all produce similar symptoms. The main difference between them is the mode of transmission and their long-term effect on a person’s health.
While there are reports of hepatitis F and G, hepatitis F is a hypothetical virus whose existence has not been shown, and the so-called hepatitis G was shown to be not associated with liver disease.
Hepatitis can be acute or long-term (chronic). An acute infection will last only a short time and although symptoms can be severe, most people recover from the illness with no lasting effects. Chronic hepatitis is on-going and can last for the rest of a person’s life.
The most common forms of hepatitis are hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Hepatitis A is acute, with no long term effects. Hepatitis B and C may be acute or chronic and when chronic can lead to serious liver disease. You can be vaccinated against hepatitis A and hepatitis B. There is no vaccination for hepatitis C.
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