Hepatitis A, B, and C: Understanding the Differences

With confusion abounding about the significance, symptoms, and progression of the several strains of hepatitis, it is difficult to understand what this medical condition does to the body and how to identify them.

This article explains all you need to know about hepatitis A, B, and C in the simplest way possible. But before exploring these differences, you should understand what hepatitis involves.

What Is Hepatitis?

Hepatitis is a medical condition that results in the inflammation (swelling end reddening) of the liver, thus affecting its ability to function effectively. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) believes heavy alcohol use, toxins, certain medications, and medical issues are secondary causes of hepatitis.

Hepatitis, however, is primarily caused by a viral infection, and in the United States, the most common hepatitis viruses are hepatitis A virus, hepatitis B virus, and hepatitis C virus.

The CDC also indicates that approximately 4.4 million Americans live with chronic hepatitis B and C, while many people don’t even know that they have hepatitis.

What Are The Differences Between Hepatitis A, B, and C?

These three liver infections may have similar names, but different viruses actually cause them. Their symptoms may also be similar, but they affect the liver in different ways.

While Hepatitis A is primarily a short-term infection, Hepatitis B and C begin as short-term infections but develop as they remain in the body, causing lifelong disease. Hepatitis A and B could also be prevented with a vaccine; however, there is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C.

How Does Hepatitis Affect The Body?

Hepatitis A is a communicable disease that affects the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). The method of transmission is usually through the consumption of contaminated food or water. However, it can also be passed from one person to another through the fecal-oral route. Though, out of the three different types of hepatitis treated in this article, this is the most mild form as it does not cause any chronic infection.

The common symptoms of hepatitis A include stomach ache, fatigue, yellowness of the eyes and urine, lack of appetite, and nausea, which usually go away within two months of infection. However, children under six years of age may not display symptoms or may have an unrecognized disease.

The hepatitis A infection is preventable by vaccines, and this is the best form of protection. Check with your medical services provider or a doctor of internal medicine about how you can access this vaccine.

How Does Hepatitis B Affect The Body?

Caused by the Hepatitis B virus (HBV), Hepatitis B is transmitted when semen, blood, or another body fluid from an infected person enters the body of someone who is not infected.

The primary methods of transmission are through

  • sexual contact
  • mother-to-baby at childbirth
  • sharing needles, syringes, or other equipment for injecting drug

The spread of hepatitis B differs from person to person. For some, it could be a rapid, short-term illness, while for others, it could develop to become a long-term, chronic infection.

Chronic infections can lead to severe health complications. Just like hepatitis A, the most potent way to prevent hepatitis B is by getting vaccinated.

How Does Hepatitis C Affect The Body?

According to the CDC, this is the most serious form of the hepatitis strain. Hepatitis C causes more than 16,000 deaths in America each year, with the health body indicating that about 85 percent of hepatitis C infections lead to chronic liver disease.

Hepatitis C is often described as “acute” or “chronic.”Acute hepatitis C can be a short-term illness that occurs within the first six months after someone is exposed to the hepatitis C virus. In most cases, however, acute infection leads to chronic infection.Chronic hepatitis C is a lifelong infection that can result in liver disease and liver cancer.

Most people with hepatitis C display no symptoms. However, those who do may experience abdominal pain, gastrointestinal bleeding or bloating, nausea, fatigue, low appetite, jaundice, or weight loss. Hepatitis C is treated through an oral tablet and can be completed in as few as 8–24 weeks. You may need to contact an internal medicine physician for steps on accessing hepatitis vaccines and treatments.

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