What causes hepatitis?
There are numerous causes of inflammation of the liver, with viral infections being a common cause. Among the viral types, hepatitis A and E are both spread primarily through food or water contaminated by feces from an infected person. Hepatitis E is rare in the United States. Hepatitis B can be spread through infected blood, usually from infected needles or blood transfusions or by sexual contact with an infected person. Hepatitis B can also be transmitted from mother to child during childbirth. Hepatitis C, the most common type of viral hepatitis, can be spread through sexual contact and childbirth but is most often transmitted through infected blood. Hepatitis D is spread through contact with infected blood in the presence of hepatitis B.
Causes of hepatitis
Hepatitis may be caused by the following:
- Alcohol abuse
- Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (an inherited condition that predisposes to liver and lung damage)
- Autoimmune reaction
- Decreased blood flow to the liver
- Drugs or toxins
- Hemochromatosis (disorder characterized by excess iron in the body)
- Obstructive jaundice
- Viral infection
- Wilson’s disease (disorder leading to excess copper deposition in the body)
- What are the risk factors for hepatitis?
A number of risk factors increase the risk of developing hepatitis. Not all people with risk factors will get hepatitis. Although these risk factors will vary depending on the type of hepatitis, risk factors for hepatitis include:
- Alcohol abuse
- Consumption of contaminated water or food
- Contact with utensils, bedding, clothing, or personal items used by someone infected with hepatitis
- Diseases that require multiple blood transfusions
- Exposure to blood or body fluids of an infected person
- Exposure to needles, including tattoo needles, used by an infected person
- Sexual contact with someone infected with hepatitis
- Travel to places with contaminated water or poor sanitation practices
Reducing your risk of hepatitis
You may be able to lower your risk of hepatitis by:
- Avoiding contact with blood or body fluids of an infected person
- Avoiding contact with used needles
- Avoiding contact with utensils, bedding, clothing, or personal items used by someone infected with hepatitis
- Boiling any water that might be contaminated before drinking it or using it to brush your teeth
- Getting vaccinated against hepatitis A and B
- Limiting travel in places with sanitation deficiencies
What is hepatitis?
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. Most forms of hepatitis result from viral infection, although in some cases it is caused by an autoimmune disorder, in which the body’s immune system attacks liver cells because it cannot tell the difference between harmful invaders and healthy liver tissue. Damage to the liver from alcohol, toxins, and certain drugs can also result in hepat... Read more about hepatitis introduction
What are the symptoms of hepatitis?
For most people, symptoms of hepatitis are similar to flu, but with the addition of jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), which is caused by an excess of bilirubin in the blood as a result of mild liver dysfunction.... Read more about hepatitis symptoms
How is hepatitis treated?
Treatment of hepatitis varies depending on the type of hepatitis. If you are diagnosed with any type of hepatitis, you should stop drinking alcohol and discontinue use of drugs that may damage the liver such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and drugs that increase your risk of bleeding such as aspirin.... Read more about hepatitis treatments