If your doctor tells you that you've got hepatitis, you'll need to find out which type he's talking about. There are five kinds, and each has different causes. They share one thing in common: Hepatitis infects your liver and causes it to get inflamed.
Hepatitis B. Most people recover from this type in 6 months. Sometimes, though, it causes a long-term infection that could lead to liver damage. Once you've got the disease, you can spread the virus even if you don't feel sick. You won't catch it if you get a vaccine.
Hepatitis C. Many people with this type don't have any symptoms. About 80% of those with the disease get a long-term infection. It can sometimes lead to cirrhosis, a scarring of the liver. There's no vaccine to prevent it.
How Do You Get Hepatitis A?
You get it from eating or drinking something that's got the virus in it.
How Do You Get Hepatitis B?
You can get it if you:
Have sex with someone who's infected
Share dirty needles when using illegal drugs
Have direct contact with infected blood or the body fluids of someone who's got the disease
If you're pregnant and you've got hepatitis B, you could give the disease to your unborn child. If you deliver a baby who's got it, he needs to get treatment in the first 12 hours after birth.
How Do You Get Hepatitis C?
Just like hepatitis B, you can get this type by sharing needles and having contact with infected blood. You can also catch it by having sex with somebody who's infected, but that's less common.
The blood used in transfusions is safe. It gets checked beforehand to make sure it's free of the virus that causes hepatitis B or C.