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Hepatitis causes liver problems

Hepatitis causes liver problems
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Hepatitis

Hepatitis is an illness that inflames and damages your liver. It affects the liver’s ability to do its job, which is to clear the blood of unwanted impurities. It is usually, but not always, caused by an infection.

Types of hepatitis

There are several types of hepatitis which cause symptoms that range from mild to very serious.

The five types, caused by different viruses, are:

  • hepatitis A – an illness that can last from a few weeks to six months
  • hepatitis B – a serious infection
  • hepatitis C – a long-term disease that can become chronic
  • hepatitis D – a disease which affects only people infected with Hepatitis B
  • hepatitis E – a serious disease in poor countries, which is rare in Australia.

There are other types that are not infectious including:

  • autoimmune hepatitis
  • alcoholic hepatitis.

Having one type of hepatitis doesn’t stop you from getting other types.

Hepatitis symptoms

Depending on the type of hepatitis you have, the symptoms may include:

You can also have hepatitis without knowing it and without any symptoms.

What causes hepatitis

Hepatitis A infection is spread by direct contact with a person who has the illness or from consuming contaminated food, drink or ice. The food or drink would be contaminated with the faeces (poo) of an infected person.

The recent outbreak of hepatitis A across Australia was caused by people eating contaminated frozen berries imported from China and Chile. Particular brands of frozen berries were recalled, and health warnings and information issued by the Australian Government Department of Health.

Hepatitis B spreads through contact with bodily fluids such as blood, sweat, saliva or semen from a person who has it. You can have it without knowing it and may be a carrier.

Hepatitis C is usually transferred by blood, such as between intravenous drug users, or between a mother and her baby.

Hepatitis diagnosis

Your doctor will talk to you and examine you. Infection with hepatitis A, B and C can be confirmed with blood tests.

You can talk to your doctor if you think you may be at risk of being infected with hepatitis through contact with bodily fluids or medical treatments. Also discuss prevention if you’re planning to travel to a country where you might consume contaminated food or water.

Last reviewed: July 2015

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

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Hepatitis A vaccine | NPS MedicineWise

The hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for people at high risk, including travellers & healthcare workers. Find out if the hepatitis A vaccine is suitable for you & your child

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Hepatitis A in children and teenagers | Raising Children Network

Hepatitis A is an inflammation of the liver, with symptoms like fever, nausea, diarrhoea and jaundice. Travel immunisation for hepatitis A is recommended.

Read more on Raising Children Network website

Hepatitis A Virus | Public Health

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Hepatitis NSW provide information and education to people at risk, people affected by viral hepatitis and to workers in the viral hepatitis sector.

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Hepatitis NSW provide information and education to people at risk, people affected by viral hepatitis and to workers in the viral hepatitis sector.

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Hepatitis NSW provide information and education to people at risk, people affected by viral hepatitis and to workers in the viral hepatitis sector.

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Hepatitis NSW provide information and education to people at risk, people affected by viral hepatitis and to workers in the viral hepatitis sector.

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