Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver causing severe cell damage and eventual destruction of the liver. Hepatitis is classified into two groups: acute and chronic. Within those two groups, six main types of hepatitis viruses have been identified.

  • Hepatitis A - a liver infection contracted by even the tiniest amount contact with contaminated fecal matter. This can be transmitted by drinking contaminated water, consuming contaminated food, eating raw shellfish from polluted water, being in close contact with an infected person or having intercourse with someone who has the virus.
  • Hepatitis B - a severe liver infection contracted through contact with the blood, semen or other bodily fluids of an infected person. This can be transmitted through sexual contact, from mother to child during child birth, accidental needle sticks in a medical setting or by the sharing of needles.
  • Hepatitis C - an infection of the liver that is contracted through contact with contaminated blood. This virus can be transferred during child birth, blood transfusion, sexual contact and by sharing contaminated needles.
  • Hepatitis D - a serious liver infection that is contracted through contact with infected blood. It can only occur if Hepatitis B is already present. There is no vaccination to prevent Hepatitis D.
  • Hepatitis E - a severe liver disease very that is similar to Hepatitis A and leads to an acute infection and will not develop into a chronic infection. It is transmitted by through oral contact with contaminated fecal matter due to poor sanitation, improperly prepared foods, or contaminated water. Currently, there is no FDA-approved vaccine for Hepatitis E.
  • Hepatitis G - a newly found, but rare liver infection that can be transmitted through contact with contaminated blood or sexual contact. There is no vaccine available to prevent Hepatitis G.

Acute Hepatitis

Acute hepatitis is commonly caused by a viral infection of hepatitis A, B, C, D or E, exposure to certain dry cleaning chemicals, or an overdose of certain drugs, like acetaminophen. Flu-like symptoms are usually the first indication, but many common symptoms below are soon to follow, including:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Jaundice
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Sore muscles and joints
  • Tenderness in the upper, right abdomen area
  • Itchy red hives
  • Clay-colored bowel movements

If diagnosed with acute hepatitis, treatment will depend on several factors including type of hepatitis, age, overall health, extent of disease, medicine allergies and personal preferences. More severe cases of acute hepatitis may require hospitalization.

In some instances, people with acute hepatitis are at risk for becoming a chronic carrier of the disease and need to take special measures to prevent the spread of the disease.

Chronic Hepatitis

When a person doesn't fully recover from acute hepatitis, they develop chronic hepatitis, which results in further damage of the liver. A person is considered to have chronic hepatitis if symptoms last longer than six months. Chronic hepatitis can last several years.

Chronic hepatitis can develop as a result of certain viruses and drugs, heavy alcohol consumption, or certain metabolic disorders, such as Wilson's Disease.

There are three types of chronic hepatitis:

  • Alcohol-induced chronic hepatitis is a result of heavy alcohol consumption and severely damages the liver.
  • Chronic active hepatitis is an aggressive inflammation and destroyer of the liver that usually develops into cirrhosis.
  • Chronic persistent hepatitis is a milder form of inflammation of the liver that normally does not lead to cirrhosis.

Generally, symptoms for chronic hepatitis are relatively mild; however, damage to the liver progressively becomes worse. Symptoms vary from person to person. In fact, some may not even experience symptoms at all. Symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Poor appetite
  • Nausea
  • Low fever
  • Jaundice
  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Fluid retention
  • Spider-like blood vessels in skin

If diagnosed with chronic hepatitis, a personalized treatment plan will be created based on the type of hepatitis, age, medical history, overall health, cause of disease, medicine allergies and personal preferences.

Our ultimate goal for treatment is to stop liver damage and alleviate related symptoms. Treatments may involve antiviral agents, corticosteroids and the suspension of certain drugs.


There are several ways to help prevent contracting and/or spreading certain type of hepatitis. Two main keys to prevention are proper hygiene and vaccinations. (Vaccinations are only available for Hepatitis A, B and C.) There are also antibody preparations available for people who may have been exposed to hepatitis to help protect them from contracting the disease.