Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. It is commonly caused by hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D and E. Major non-viral causes of hepatitis are alcohol and drugs. Following is key information about Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, the most common types.
- Hepatitis A – Is often acquired from the stool of one person to the mouth of another. Therefore, it is often associated with poor personal hygiene such as not always washing one’s hands well. One should also take other measures to avoid direct contact with food and water that might be contaminated. Eating raw shellfish that is contaminated can occasionally cause hepatitis A.
- Hepatitis B – Often occurs among intravenous (IV) or injecting drug users, many of whom share contaminated hypodermic needles and syringes. It is also transmitted sexually, in both heterosexual and homosexual activity. Hepatitis B virus can be transmitted from an infected mother to her child during birth. Hospital personnel who have contact with blood are at increased risk although established risk reducing measures should be taken.
- Hepatitis C – Is most often transmitted by IV drug users. Although sexual transmission is possible, it is not common. People with hepatitis C have an increased risk of developing: (a) chronic hepatitis, (b) liver cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver, with decreased function, and (b) liver cancer. Hepatitis C also commonly occurs in people with alcoholic liver disease.