Many people mistakenly think that hepatitis means viral hepatitis, and that all forms of hepatitis are contagious. Actually, the word hepatitis is a catch-all term that refers to any inflammation of the liver -- the irritation or swelling of liver cells from any cause.
Hepatitis can be acute (inflammation of the liver that lasts less than six months) or chronic (inflammation of the liver that lasts more than six months) and has many different causes. It can be caused by a group of viruses known...
Sharing needles and other equipment (such as
cotton, spoons, and water) used to inject drugs.
Having your ears
or another body part pierced, getting a tattoo, or having
acupuncture with needles that have not been sterilized
properly. The risk of getting hepatitis C in these ways is very
Working in a health care environment where you are exposed to
fresh blood or where you may be pricked with a used needle. Following standard
precautions for health care workers makes this risk very low.
Other possible risks
Sometimes people get hepatitis C from:
Having had a blood transfusion or organ
transplant before 1992. Since 1992, all donated blood and organs are screened for hepatitis C.
Having been exposed to unsafe practices for giving shots, such as
reusing needles. This occurs in some developing countries.
to have your blood filtered by a machine (hemodialysis)
because your kidneys cannot filter your blood.
Being born to a
mother who has hepatitis C. The risk of passing the virus to a child is greater
if the mother is also infected with
People born from 1945 to 1965 are 5 times more likely to be infected with hepatitis C than people born in other years.4
The risk of getting hepatitis C through sexual contact is very small.1 The risk is
higher if you have many sex
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
August 15, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this