2020 Aug 16. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan–.
Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. Viruses most commonly cause hepatitis. But drugs, alcohol, toxins, and certain diseases, including autoimmune diseases, can also cause hepatitis. When viruses cause hepatitis, it is called viral hepatitis. Usually, in the United States, three kinds of viral hepatitis are found - Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C. There are other kinds of viral hepatitis like Hepatitis D and Hepatitis E, but these are less common. Some types of hepatitis are mild, but some can be serious. Some types of hepatitis are self-limiting. Some forms of hepatitis can be treated with medications, while some types of viral hepatitis are preventable with vaccines. Hepatitis of less than six months duration is called acute hepatitis. When it lasts longer than six months, it is called chronic hepatitis. Chronic hepatitis that is diagnosed late and/or remains untreated or suboptimally treated, especially the one caused by viral infections, can lead to significant morbidity and mortality and can cause permanent liver damage including liver fibrosis, cirrhosis, jaundice, gastrointestinal bleed, abdominal swelling or ascites, fulminant liver failure, hepatocellular carcinoma, and even death.