Hepatitis refers to an inflammatory condition of the liver. It’s commonly caused by a viral infection, but there are other possible causes of hepatitis. These include autoimmune hepatitis and hepatitis that occurs as a secondary result of medications, drugs, toxins, and alcohol.


The signs and symptoms of acute hepatitis come on quickly. You understand:

  1. Tired
  2. flu-like symptoms
  3. Dark urine
  4. Pale stool
  5. Stomach pain
  6. Loss of appetite
  7. Unexplained weight loss
  8. Yellow skin and eyes which may be signs of jaundice


Alcohol and other toxins

Other toxic causes of hepatitis include drug overuse or overdose and exposure to poisons.

Autoimmune system response


Viral infections of the liver classified as hepatitis include hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. Each type of virally transmitted hepatitis is a different virus.

Hepatitis A is always an acute, short-term illness, while hepatitis B, C, and D tend to become more persistent and chronic. Hepatitis E is usually acute but can be especially dangerous in pregnant women.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is caused by infection with the hepatitis A virus (HAV). This type of hepatitis is most commonly transmitted through consumption of food or water contaminated with the feces of a person infected with hepatitis A.

Hepatitis B.

Hepatitis B is spread through contact with infectious body fluids such as blood, vaginal fluids, or semen that contain the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Using injectables, having sex with an infected partner, or sharing razors with an infected person increases the risk of developing hepatitis B.

The trusted CDC source estimates that 1.2 million people in the US and 350 million people worldwide are living with this chronic disease.

Hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C comes from the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Hepatitis C is spread through direct contact with infected body fluids, usually drug injection and sexual contact. HCV is one of the most common viral blood-borne infections in the United States. Approximately 2.7 to 3.9 million Trusted Source Americans are currently living with a chronic form of this infection.

Hepatitis D.

Hepatitis D, also called delta hepatitis, is a serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis D virus (HDV). HDV contracts through direct contact with infected blood. Hepatitis D is a rare form of hepatitis that only occurs in conjunction with hepatitis B infection. The hepatitis D virus cannot multiply without hepatitis B. C ‘is very rare in the US.

Hepatitis E.

Hepatitis E is a water-borne disease caused by the hepatitis E virus (HEV). Hepatitis E occurs mainly in areas with poor sanitation and usually results from ingestion of feces that contaminate water supplies. This disease is rare in the United States. However, according to trusted CDC source, cases of hepatitis E have been reported in the Middle East, Asia, Central America and Africa.


no antiviral drug available to treat hepatitis D. According to a 2013 study by Trusted Source, a drug called interferon alpha can be used to treat hepatitis D, but it only shows 25-30% improvement.

Hepatitis D can be prevented by the hepatitis B vaccine because hepatitis B infection is required for hepatitis D to develop.

Hepatitis E.

No specific medical treatment to treat hepatitis E is currently available. Because the infection is often acute, it will usually go away on its own. People with this type of infection are often advised to get enough rest, drink plenty of fluids, consume enough nutrients, and avoid alcohol. However, pregnant women who develop this infection need close monitoring and care.


To diagnose hepatitis, your doctor will first examine your history to determine what risk factors you may have for infectious and non-infectious hepatitis.

During a physical exam, your doctor may press gently on your stomach to see if there is pain or tenderness. Your doctor can also tell if your liver is enlarged. If your skin or eyes are yellow, your doctor will determine this during the exam.

Liver function test

Liver function tests use blood samples to determine how well your liver is working. Abnormal results from these tests can be the first sign of a problem, especially if you don’t show any signs on a physical exam for liver disease. High levels of liver enzymes can indicate that your liver is stressed, damaged, or not working properly.

Other blood tests

If your liver function tests are abnormal, your doctor will likely order additional blood tests to find the cause of the problem. These tests can look for viruses that cause hepatitis. They can also be used to test for antibodies, which are common in conditions like autoimmune hepatitis.


An abdominal ultrasound scan uses ultrasound waves to create an image of the organs in your abdomen. This test allows your doctor to get closer to your liver and nearby organs. It can show:

  1. Fluid in your stomach
  2. Liver damage or enlargement
  3. Liver tumors
  4. Abnormalities in your gallbladder
  5. Sometimes the pancreas will show up on ultrasound images as well.
  6. This can be a useful test to determine the cause of your abnormal liver function.
Liver biopsy

A liver biopsy is an invasive procedure in which your doctor takes a sample of tissue from your liver. It can be done with a needle through the skin and does not require surgery. An ultrasound is usually used to help your doctor collect the biopsy sample.

This test can help your doctor determine how the infection or inflammation has affected your liver. It can also be used to examine any areas of your liver that appear abnormal.

Risk factor

A person’s medical history can also affect their chances of developing hepatitis.

The health risk factors for hepatitis include:

  1. Do not get vaccinated against viral hepatitis, especially HAV and HBV7
  2. Have an acute or chronic infection with one or more hepatitis viruses
  3. Have an autoimmune disease such as autoimmune
  4. polyendocrinopathy, candidiasis, ectodermal dystrophy (APECE)
  5. Born to a mother infected with the hepatitis virus, specifically hepatitis B.

When to see the doctor

If you have signs and symptoms of hepatitis A, make an appointment with your family doctor or attending doctor.