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MAIN Arrow to HealthHealth Arrow to DiseaseDiseases & Conditions Arrow to HepatitisHepatitis

hepatitis c virus
Electron microscope image
of the hepatitis C virus.

Hepatitis generally refers to a liver disease caused by a viral infection, resulting in the liver becoming tender and enlarged and unable to function properly.

Those who contract the virus may show no signs of the disease, although symptoms commonly include nausea, fatigue, muscle aches, and joint pain as the liver begins to malfunction and toxins build up in the body.

As the condition worsens, later symptoms can appear as dark urine, light colored stools, abdominal pain, or jaundice marked by a noticeable yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes.

Three leading types of the disease are hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Less common types include hepatitis D and E, non-A and non-B.

All are contagious by various means. Hepatitis A is easily spread through casual contact, and hepatitis B (also known as serum hepatitis) is usually contracted through transfused blood and contaminated syringes. However, vaccines have been developed for hepatitis A & B that have shown great success in protecting against these forms.

Hepatitis C is usually spread through unprotected sex, blood transfusion, or intravenous drug use, and is the most pervasive form of hepatitis recently replacing alcoholism in the U.S. as the primary cause of cirrhosis.

On the Web, find out more about the risks of getting the disease, how it's diagnosed and what vaccines or drugs are being used to treat it, with more on alternative therapies and nutrition guides for boosting the immune system for a growing population living with hepatitis ...

More information about hepatitis around the Web:

Viral hepatitis fact sheet
- Good intro to the topic with information for women on how various forms of hepatitis are contracted, typical signs & symptoms, methods of treatment, information for pregnant women and how to protect newborns from the disease, facts on the hepatitis A & B vaccines, and related resources.

Hepatitis C and Complementary and Alternative Medicine - Extensive overview of alternative treatments for hepatitis C with discussions on milk thistle, ginseng, licorice root and related therapies, including a table comparing herbal treatments and associated clinical studies, with relate links and research citations.

Hepatitis B Foundation - Comprehensive information on the disease with guides to populations at risk, vaccines, treatment options, patient support resources, clinical trials, FAQ, related glossary of terms and a searchable directory of liver specialists by U.S. state.

This information is intended as reference and not as medical advice.
All treatment decisions should be made by medical professionals.

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