May is Hepatitis Awareness Month and May 19 was National Hepatitis Testing Day. There are several different kinds of viral hepatitis named in order of discovery as Hepatitis A,B,C,D, and E. The first three are the most important.
Hepatitis A is spread via fecal/oral transmission and can be found in contaminated foods and can be contagious. It can cause fatigue and jaundice. Usually it is self limited and rarely causes death or liver failure.
Hepatitis B is endemic in Asia and is spread via blood and body fluids. Vertical transmission from mother to child at birth is a major source of spread. It can also be spread via sexual transmission and intravenous drug use. Few infected people become chronic carriers of the virus but those few are at risk of liver cancer and developing cirrhosis in their lifetime. Treatment varies with the what type of markers a patient has, the degree of elevation of liver enzymes, and the amount of virus in the body.
Hepatitis C is now virtually curable. It is spread via blood and body fluids as well usually through iv drug use or getting blood products before 1992 when we were able to screen the blood supply. Most infected people will become chronic carriers that over decades can lead to cirrhosis. Over 2 million Americans are infected and most do not know it. The CDC has recommended that all baby boomers be screened.
Click on the link if you want to know which hepatitis you should be checked for: https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/RiskAssessment/