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What is the Connection Between Hepatitis and Liver Disease?

Marjorie McAtee
Marjorie McAtee

Hepatitis and liver disease are usually linked. There are generally two forms of hepatitis, acute and chronic, both of which cause inflammation of the liver. Symptoms of acute hepatitis usually clear up in less than six months. Chronic hepatitis causes inflammation of the liver that usually lasts for at least six months, but often much longer. The long-term liver inflammation associated with chronic hepatitis can cause liver disease, including cirrhosis or liver cancer.

Hepatitis is often viral in origin. Hepatitis A, which usually spreads through contact with contaminated stool, most often causes acute hepatitis. This disease usually doesn't cause severe symptoms, and most patients recover within six months.

Types of liver disease, including fibrosis and cirrhosis, complications of hepatitis.
Types of liver disease, including fibrosis and cirrhosis, complications of hepatitis.

The viral hepatitis strains most likely to contribute to liver disease are probably hepatitis B and C. Other forms of hepatitis exist, but these generally only affect those already infected with one of the three primary strains of viral hepatitis. The long-term liver inflammation often associated with chronic hepatitis can raise the risk of scarring of the liver, a condition known as cirrhosis. Scarred liver tissue usually can't be regenerated, and this kind of liver damage can't be reversed. Chronic hepatitis can also raise the risk of liver cancer.

Anyone exposed to unsanitary food practices might become infected with hepatitis A.
Anyone exposed to unsanitary food practices might become infected with hepatitis A.

Exposure to toxins, or heavy alcohol use, can also cause hepatitis. The term hepatitis doesn't always refer to a specific infectious disease of the liver, but to inflammation of the liver that can lead to liver disease. Hepatitis and liver disease can occur as a result of alcoholism, or exposure to toxins. Certain fungal poisons have been known to contribute to hepatitis and liver disease. Inherited conditions such as Wilson's disease can contribute to hepatitis and liver disease, as can autoimmune reactions that can occur in some individuals. Use of certain medications, especially painkillers or antibiotic drugs, can contribute to hepatitis and liver disease, or worsen hepatitis in those already suffering from it.

Hepatitis is usually linked with liver disease.
Hepatitis is usually linked with liver disease.

While there may be strong link between hepatitis and liver disease, hepatitis does not always lead to liver disease. Acute hepatitis usually resolves without contributing to liver disease. Hepatitis caused by alcoholism or other toxic exposure generally improves when the liver is no longer exposed to those toxins. Liver disease is generally not diagnosed until the liver begins to be scarred by cirrhosis.

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    • Types of liver disease, including fibrosis and cirrhosis, complications of hepatitis.
      By: peterjunaidy
      Types of liver disease, including fibrosis and cirrhosis, complications of hepatitis.
    • Anyone exposed to unsanitary food practices might become infected with hepatitis A.
      By: Brebca
      Anyone exposed to unsanitary food practices might become infected with hepatitis A.
    • Hepatitis is usually linked with liver disease.
      By: nerthuz
      Hepatitis is usually linked with liver disease.
    • Because the liver filters toxins and waste from the blood, if the organ fails to work properly a person can become seriously ill.
      By: pixdesign123
      Because the liver filters toxins and waste from the blood, if the organ fails to work properly a person can become seriously ill.