Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is caused by the hepatitis A virus. It's usually caught by consuming food and drink contaminated with the poo of an infected person and is most common in countries where sanitation is poor.

Hepatitis A usually passes within a few months, although it can occasionally be severe and even life-threatening. There's no specific treatment for it, other than to relieve symptoms such as pain, nausea and itching.

Vaccination against hepatitis A is recommended if you're travelling to an area where the virus is common, such as the Indian subcontinent, Africa, Central and South America, the Far East and Eastern Europe.

It's a common infection worldwide and is usually spreadfrom infected pregnant women to their babies, or from child-to-child contact. In rare cases, it can be spread through unprotected sex and injecting drugs.

Hepatitis B is uncommon in the UK and most cases affect people who became infected while growing up in part of the world where the infection is more common, such as Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Most adults infected with hepatitis B are able to fight off the virus and fully recover from the infection within a couple of months.

However, most people infected as children develop a long-term infection. This is known as chronic hepatitis B and it can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Antiviral medication can be used to treat it.

In the UK, vaccination against hepatitis B is recommended for people in high-risk groups, such as healthcare workers, people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men, and people travelling to parts of the world where the infection is more common.

It's usually spread through blood-to-blood contact with an infected person.

In the UK, it's most commonly spread through sharing needles used to inject drugs. Poor healthcare practices and unsafe medical injections are the main way its spread outside the UK.

Hepatitis C often causes no noticeable symptoms, or only flu-like symptoms, so many people are unaware they're infected.

Around one in four people will fight off the infection and be free of the virus. In the remaining cases, it will stay in the body for many years. This is known as chronic hepatitis C and can cause cirrhosis and liver failure.

Chronic hepatitis C can be treated with very effective antiviral medications, but there's currently no vaccine available.

It only affects people who are alreadyinfected with hepatitis B, as it needs the hepatitis B virus to be able to survive inthe body.

Hepatitis D is usually spread through blood-to-blood contact orsexual contact. It's uncommon in the UK, but is more widespread inother parts ofEurope, the Middle East, Africa and South America.

Long-term infection with hepatitis D and hepatitis B can increase your risk of developing serious problems, such as cirrhosis and liver cancer.

There's no vaccine specifically for hepatitis D, but the hepatitis B vaccine (see above) can help protect you from it.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 21 Dec 2018