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The 6 types of hepatitis

23 July 2021


Key points:

  • Hepatitis can be acute (short-term) or chronic, some types of hepatitis cause only acute infection, others can cause a combination of acute and chronic.
  • Viral hepatitis is the most common type, this refers to hepatitis A, B, C, D & E transmitted by fluids, feces, water, and unprotected sexual intercourse.
  • The liver is a vital organ that we must preserve, hepatitis can cause cirrhosis or liver cancer which would give rise to the need for a transplant.

What is hepatitis and what causes it?

This disease refers to liver inflammation and can be caused by a viral infection that is transmitted through food or sexually, excessive alcohol consumption, toxic substances, or an autoimmune system defect.

Here we explain each of them and their possible treatments:

Hepatitis A

It is caused by a virus. It is usually spread by contaminated food and water and by contact with feces from an infected person.

It does not require specific treatment, sometimes rest, hydration, and a balanced diet are recommended, always under medical supervision.

The most common symptoms are fatigue, urine that is darker than normal, fever, yellowish skin color and itching, abdominal pain, and lack of appetite.

Hepatitis B

There are two types: acute and chronic. It is transmitted through blood or contaminated semen and vaginal secretions. Risk factors include not wearing protection when having sex or sharing sharps objects with infected people.

It is estimated that 350 million people in the world suffer from this chronic disease, which increases the risk of liver failure, liver cancer, or cirrhosis, which causes permanent liver scarring.

Treatment is not necessary when it is acute since it disappears on its own, however, when it is chronic, antiviral treatment and medical follow-up for months and even years are necessary to verify that said treatment is working.

Hepatitis C

 It is considered a viral blood infection since it can only be transmitted through direct contact with fluids through needles or by having unprotected sex.

In most cases, it has no symptoms but causes liver inflammation that could lead to serious liver damage.

It is treated with antiviral drugs in its chronic and acute stages, people with chronic hepatitis C may need a liver transplant.

Today, there is no vaccine to protect us from this disease.

Hepatitis D

It is a rare type of hepatitis since it cannot exist without a precedent of hepatitis B. It is known as delta hepatitis and there is no available treatment yet.

Hepatitis E

It is found in areas with poor environmental hygiene and is the result of consuming fecal content that contaminates the water supply.

Treatment consists of staying hydrated, resting, and in the case of pregnant women, medical monitoring.

Non-infectious hepatitis:

Autoimmune hepatitis

Sometimes the immune system mistakes the liver for harmful matter and attacks it, causing inflammation that makes it difficult for the liver to work properly. It has a higher incidence in women.

The treatment is performed using drugs that suppress the immune system so it is important to have medical monitoring.

Alcoholic hepatitis

Caused by excessive alcohol consumption, it causes liver inflammation and scarring (cirrhosis) and can be fatal if not treated in time.

At ABC Medical Center’s Department of Preventive Medicine, we can provide you with specialized care. Contact us!


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