Photo: Getty Images
Hepatitis is swelling or inflammation of the liver. Viruses such as the hepatitis viruses A, B, or C cause most cases of hepatitis. Viral hepatitis is the most common liver disease in the world.
I wrote previously about hepatitis A, B and C. Here are some other viruses that can target the liver:
• Hepatitis D – This condition is caused by the hepatitis D virus (HDV) and only occurs in people who already have the hepatitis B virus. It is most common in intravenous (IV) drug users. Like hepatitis B, hepatitis D is spread through contact with infected body fluids, such as semen or blood.
Hepatitis D is a serious concern for people with hepatitis B because it makes hepatitis B symptoms worse and can lead to serious and permanent liver damage including scarring (cirrhosis) and liver cancer. There is no vaccine for hepatitis D.
• Hepatitis E – This type of hepatitis is similar to hepatitis A. It is caused by the hepatitis E virus (HEV). It is found only in countries with poor sanitation and is rarely seen in the United States. Hepatitis E is seldom life threatening. There is no vaccine to prevent HEV.
• Autoimmune hepatitis – This type of hepatitis is an autoimmune disease which means the body’s immune system attacks its own cells. In this case, the immune system targets liver cells, causing inflammation of the liver. This type of hepatitis will continue to get worse if it is not treated and can lead to cirrhosis or scarring on the liver. Autoimmune hepatitis is a chronic or long-lasting disease that can cause liver failure leading to death.
Type 1 autoimmune hepatitis typically starts during adolescence or young adulthood. Approximately half of people with type 1 hepatitis also have another autoimmune condition. Type 2 autoimmune hepatitis is less common. It is most often seen in girls between the ages of 2 and 14, although adults can also have it.
Treatment for autoimmune hepatitis usually includes medications to reduce the activity of the immune system.
• Mononucleosis (Mono) – This infection is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus.