The term hepatitis is prominent in a lot of medical literature.
However, due to the number of different types of hepatitis, it can often seem confusing. On its own, hepatitis is a liver disease. The liver becomes inflamed and is unable to function normally. There are actually five different types of viral hepatitis. The most common and well known are hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. It should be noted that there’s actually some other types of hepatitis that can occur outside of viral strains. People who drink too much can get alcoholic hepatitis. Some people have their immune system attack the liver causing a form of autoimmune hepatitis. For the purposes of this article, it will focus on the five viral forms of hepatitis only.
1 - Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is arguably the least dangerous and frustrating version of the disease. Mild cases of hepatitis A don’t require people to get treatment and will run their course without causing permanent damage to the liver or body. Typically people get hepatitis A through water or food that has been contaminated. Even though it’s not too bad, there are vaccines which will allow people to avoid getting hepatitis A. These are very commonly chosen due to the high chances of contracting hepatitis A while traveling to some areas of the world. Why risk a simple vacation when you can just take a basic vaccine.
2 - Hepatitis B
Some people are infected with hepatitis B. They can spread it to other people through their bodily fluids. This can include blood, semen and vaginal fluids. People who share razors, needles or have intercourse with an infected person find themselves at a higher risk of getting infected with hepatitis. Hepatitis B is fairly common and over 350 million people worldwide deal with chronic hepatitis B. Hepatitis B can be stopped by becoming vaccinated. This vaccine is usually given to children early so that it can’t gain traction. If vaccines aren’t used, then antiviral medications can be used to treat it, but might need to be taken for months or years at a time.
3 - Hepatitis C
Like hepatitis B, this version is transferred through bodily fluids. It’s typically shared through sexual activities or through infected blood. Hepatitis C is being dealt with by between 2.5 million and 4 million Americans at any given time! Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C, which means that treatment will be required. Treatment focuses around antiviral medications and drug therapy. Since hepatitis C so often leads to cirrhosis, some people require liver transplants as the liver damage continues.
4 - Hepatitis D
This is a rarer form of hepatitis than the three mentioned before. Specifically, it requires the hepatitis B virus to also be present in the body. Or rather, it can’t grow and multiply without hepatitis B. This version of hepatitis is only contracted through contact with other people’s infected blood. Antiviral medications don’t work for hepatitis D at this time. The best way to treat hepatitis D is to get vaccinated for hepatitis B, since without B, there’s no issue with hepatitis D.
5 - Hepatitis E
This version of hepatitis comes from water systems around the world. These are infected sanitation platforms that have had some sort of fecal matter which has infected the water supply. Hepatitis E is very rare in the United States. Far more cases are reported in more remote and less developed areas of the world. There’s no current treatment for people with hepatitis E. In most cases, people just need to get some rest and stay hydrated. The exception is pregnant women, who should definitely speak with their doctors and receive extra monitoring and care.