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Viral hepatitis is a liver condition caused by an infection. There are different types of viral hepatitis, each caused by a different virus.
All types of viral hepatitis can cause the liver to become swollen or damaged.
Thousands of people in the U.S. have viral hepatitis each year, but many don't know they have it.
You can catch the viruses that cause viral hepatitis in a few ways.
The type of hepatitis you have depends on the virus that causes your infection.
Viral hepatitis types include:
Viral hepatitis infections happen in different ways, including:
Without treatment, viral hepatitis can damage your liver over time. This damage affects how your liver removes toxins and can cause serious problems.
People who have viral hepatitis are at higher risk of:
You can protect yourself from viral hepatitis by avoiding behavior that increases your risk of infection.
If you're an IV drug user, or use needles to take drugs, never share needles or use dirty needles.
Help prevent viral hepatitis infection by:
Symptoms of viral hepatitis are much alike, no matter which type you have.
These symptoms include:
If you have any of these symptoms, let your doctor know. Your doctor might want you to have a blood test.
Some people with viral hepatitis, mostly hepatitis C, don't have any symptoms at all.
That's why every adult should get screened for hepatitis C at least once. Your doctor may also urge you to get tested if you are pregnant or have ever used IV drugs.
Doctors at the UPMC Center for Liver Diseases can diagnose viral hepatitis even if you don't have symptoms.
If your doctor suggests hepatitis screening, you can get a blood test that looks for one or more viral infections. These tests tell doctors if you have viral hepatitis right now or if you had it at another time.
Doctors also use certain tests to see if viral hepatitis has damaged your liver. Learn more about diagnostic testing at the Center for Liver Diseases
Doctors can't always cure viral hepatitis, but certain treatments can help keep your liver healthy.
Experts at the UPMC Center for Liver Diseases offer the care that's right for you.
The goal of viral hepatitis treatment is to prevent long-term damage to your liver.
You should expect to see your doctor routinely to track your liver's health and any symptoms you're having.
If you have active hepatitis A or hepatitis B, your doctor might suggest these lifestyle changes to help keep your liver healthy:
If you have hepatitis C, your doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs. These are drugs that clear the virus from your body.
Left untreated, viral hepatitis can cause issues such as liver failure, or end-stage liver disease. The only treatment option for liver failure is transplant.
Liver transplant surgery replaces your failing liver with a healthy liver from a donor.