Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver tissue. If hepatitis resolves within six months, it is called acute, if it lasts longer than six months, it is chronic. Acute hepatitis may resolve on its own, progress to chronic hepatitis, or (rarely) result in acute liver failure. Chronic hepatitis may progress to liver scarring (cirrhosis), liver failure, and liver cancer.
The hepatitis virus has five primary strains that are categorized as types A, B, C, D, and E. While they all contribute to liver disease, they differ in crucial areas such as mechanisms of transmission, sickness severity, geographic distribution, and prevention strategies. Hepatitis A and E are mainly spread by contaminated food and water. Hepatitis B is mainly transmitted sexually, but it can be transmitted from mother to baby during pregnancy or birth and spread through infected blood. Hepatitis C is commonly spread through infected blood, as can occur during needle sharing by intravenous drug users. Hepatitis D can only infect people already infected with hepatitis B.