July 13, 2023
The liver is a vital organ that processes nutrients, filters the blood, and fights infections. Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver — heavy alcohol use, toxins, some medications, and certain medical conditions can cause hepatitis.
Hepatitis can also be caused by a virus. In the United States, the most common types of viral hepatitis are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Additionally, hepatitis can be contracted from contaminated food, blood, bodily fluids, syringes, needles, and childbirth.
When the liver is inflamed or damaged, its function can be affected. A person infected with hepatitis can have long-term or short-term effects. Long-term (chronic) hepatitis B and C are the leading cause of liver cancer.
The symptoms of hepatitis usually last several weeks, but some people feel sick for as long as 6 months. Many people do not have symptoms and do not know they are infected. If they do have symptoms, they may experience:
- Loss of appetite.
- Vomiting or abdominal pain.
- Dark urine and clay-colored bowel movements.
- Joint pain.
- Jaundice (yellow color in the skin or the eyes).
The CDC recommends all adults get tested for hepatitis B and hepatitis C at least once in their lifetime. Pregnant women should get tested during each pregnancy.
You can find out more about viral hepatitis on the CDC website at cdc.gov/hepatitis/abc/index.htm.
— Compensation and Benefits,
Human Resources, 7-13-23