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Hepatitis

Also called: Viral hepatitis

Summary

Your liver is the largest organ inside your body. It helps your body digest food, store energy, and remove poisons. Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver.

Viruses cause most cases of hepatitis. The type of hepatitis is named for the virus that causes it; for example, hepatitis A, hepatitis B or hepatitis C. Drug or alcohol use can also cause hepatitis. In other cases, your body mistakenly attacks healthy cells in the liver.

Some people who have hepatitis have no symptoms. Others may have

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dark-colored urine and pale bowel movements
  • Stomach pain
  • Jaundice, yellowing of skin and eyes

Some forms of hepatitis are mild, and others can be serious. Some can lead to scarring, called cirrhosis, or to liver cancer.

Sometimes hepatitis goes away by itself. If it does not, it can be treated with drugs. Sometimes hepatitis lasts a lifetime. Vaccines can help prevent some viral forms.

Start Here

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • (Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health) Also in
  • (World Health Organization) Also in

Diagnosis and Tests

Living With

  • (Hepatitis Foundation International)

Related Issues

  • (Immunization Action Coalition) - PDF
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) - PDF

Specifics

  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)
  • (World Health Organization) Also in
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in

Health Check Tools

  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Statistics and Research

  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Clinical Trials

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Find an Expert

  • Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health

Children

  • (Nemours Foundation)
  • (American Academy of Pediatrics) Also in
  • (Nemours Foundation) Also in

Teenagers

  • (Nemours Foundation)

Men

  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) - PDF

Patient Handouts

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