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Types of Hepatitis: A, B, and C

There are three major types of hepatitis, and all of them affect your liver. Some of the symptoms are similar, but they have different treatments.

Hepatitis A. This type won't lead to long-term infection and usually doesn't cause any complications. Your liver heals in about 2 months. You can prevent it with a vaccine.

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Chronic Hepatitis C: The Basics

This long-lasting liver infection is caused by the hepatitis C virus. During the first 6 months, it's called acute hepatitis. For most people who get it -- up to 80% -- the illness moves into a long-lasting stage. This is called a chronic hepatitis C infection.

Read the Chronic Hepatitis C: The Basics article > >

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.

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