Hepatitis is a term used to describe inflammation (swelling) of the liver. It can occur as a result of a viral infection or because the liver is exposed to harmful substances such as alcohol.
Some types of hepatitis will pass without causing permanent damage to the liver.
Other types can persist for many years and cause scarring of the liver (cirrhosis) and, in the most serious cases, loss of liver function (liver failure), which can be fatal. These types of long-lasting hepatitis are known as chronic hepatitis.
muscle and joint pain
a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
occasionally yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice)
feeling unusually tired all the time
a general sense of feeling unwell
In many cases, hepatitis causes no noticeable symptoms, so when hepatitis is caused by a virus, many people are unaware they are infected.
Similarly, many people with hepatitis caused by alcohol are unaware that their drinking is harming their liver.
Types of hepatitis
1. Hepatitis A
2. Hepatitis B
3. Hepatitis C
4. Hepatitis D
5. Hepatitis E
6. Alcoholic hepatitis
7. Autoimmune hepatitis
Reducing your risk
The four most effective ways to reduce your risk of developing hepatitis are:
1. Never share drug equipment with other drug users. This does not just apply to needles, but also syringes, spoons and filters as well as bank notes or straws to snort cocaine.
2. Use a condom during sex, including anal and oral sex.
3. Moderate your consumption of alcohol.
4. Make sure you are vaccinated for hepatitis A and B if travelling to parts of the world where these infections are widespread.