The ABCs of hepatitis
The hepatitis virus has different types. Hepatitis A, B, and C are the most common. (Hepatitis D and E viruses also exist.) To wrap up Hepatitis Awareness Month, we explore the differences and similarities of hepatitis A, B, and C. We first published this post in May 2018.
What the three virus types have in common, and how they are different.
Hepatitis A, B, and C can cause similar symptoms:
- Loss of appetite.
- Stomach pain.
- Dark urine.
- Clay-colored stool.
- Joint pain.
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes.
Adults with hepatitis A usually have these symptoms. People with hepatitis B and C don’t usually show symptoms. Also, hepatitis A is an infection that makes you very sick for several days or even weeks, but then it’s over. It does not become a chronic condition. Hepatitis B becomes chronic in 90% of infants and 5-10% of adults. That’s why immunizing babies against this virus is so important. Hepatitis C becomes chronic in 75-80% of people infected.
Tracking down hepatitis B and C gets tricky because many people don’t show symptoms and don’t know they’re infected. If you have an acute—or newly acquired—infection, symptoms might come on anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months after exposure. If the infection is chronic—lasting longer than 6 months—you might not show symptoms until decades later. Chronic viral hepatitis can lead to scarring of the liver (cirrhosis) and sometimes liver cancer. That’s why it’s very important for people who are at risk to be screened.
Here’s an overview of hepatitis A, B, and C. The information comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
|Hepatitis A||Hepatitis B||Hepatitis C|
If you have a chronic hepatitis infection, your healthcare provider will discuss your options with you. Not sure if you’re at risk for hepatitis? Take a five-minute online test to see if you are. Learn more about the differences and similarities of hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.
- Updated: 06/10/2019
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