This is caused by eating infected food or water. The food or water is infected with a virus called HAV (hepatitis A virus). Anal-oral contact during sex can also be a cause. Nearly everyone who develops Hepatitis A makes a full recovery - it does not lead to chronic disease.
This is an STD (sexually transmitted disease). It is caused by the virus HBV (hepatitis B virus) and is spread by contact with infected blood, semen, and some other body fluids. You get hepatitis B by:
- Unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected person (unprotected sex means without using a condom) Using a syringe that was previously used by an infected person (most commonly happens with drug addicts and people who inject steroids).
- Having your skin perforated with unsterilised needles, as might be the case when getting a tattoo, or being accidentally pricked. People who work in health care risk becoming infected by accident in this way. Sharing personal items, such as a toothbrush or razor, with an infected person.
- A baby can become infected through his mother's milk if she is infected.
- Being bitten by someone who is infected.
Hepatitis C is usually spread through direct contact with the blood of a person who has the disease. It is caused by the virus HCV (hepatitis C Virus). The liver can swell and become damaged. In hepatitis C, unlike hepatitis B, liver cancer risk is only increased in people with cirrhosis and only 20% of hep C patients get cirrhosis. Feces are never a route of transmission in hepatitis C. Donated blood is also tested for hepatitis C.
The initial phase of hepatitis is called the acute phase. The symptoms are like a mild flu, and may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Mild fever
- Muscle or joint aches
- Slight abdominal pain
- Weight loss.
The acute phase is not usually dangerous, unless it develops into the fulminant or rapidly progressing form, which can lead to death. As the patient gets worse, these symptoms may follow:
- Circulation problems (only toxic/drug-induced hepatitis)
- Dark urine
- Dizziness (only toxic/drug-induced hepatitis)
- Drowsiness (only toxic/drug-induced hepatitis)
- Enlarged spleen (only alcoholic hepatitis)
- Headache (only toxic/drug-induced hepatitis)
- Itchy skin
- Light colored feces, the feces may contain pus
- Yellow skin, whites of eyes, tongue (jaundice).
Patient outcomes after the acute phase depend on various factors, especially the type of hepatitis.