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Home :: Hepatitis, Acute viral

Hepatitis, Acute viral

Hepatitis means liver inflammation. Viral hepatitis means that a person has liver inflammation due to a virus. Viral infection of the liver makes the liver swell up and stop working well. The liver is an important organ. It helps your body with these functions:

  • Digests food
  • Stores energy
  • Removes poisons

There are five types of viral hepatitis. The most common types in the United States are viral hepatitis A, B, and C.


Common causes of acute hepatitis may include:

  • infection with a virus (viral hepatitis A, B, C, D, or E)
  • overdose of drugs (such as acetaminophen)
  • chemical exposure (such as dry cleaning chemicals)

Additional risk factors include:

  • Travel to areas with poor sanitation.
  • Use of intravenous drugs such as heroin.
  • Blood transfusions.
  • Close personal contact in locker rooms.
  • Poor nutrition.
  • Previous illness that has lowered resistance.
  • Alcoholism.   

Signs and symptoms

Acute hepatitis usually starts with flu-like symptoms. The following are the most common symptoms of acute hepatitis. However, each individual may experience different symptoms such as, jaundice, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fever, tenderness in the right upper part of the tummy (abdomen), sore muscles, joint pain and itchy red hives on skin .

The symptoms of acute hepatitis may resemble other conditions or medical problems. A physician must be contacted for timely diagnosis.


In addition to a complete medical history and medical examination, diagnostic procedures for acute hepatitis may include

  • specific laboratory tests for virus detection
  • liver function tests.


Treatment for acute hepatitis will be determined by your physician based on the cause, severity, your underlying health and whether there is any previous history of liver disease.

In general, most people recover without treatment. Severe acute hepatitis may require hospitalization. People who have had acute viral hepatitis may become chronic carriers of the disease in case of Hepatitis B or C infection.

Home Treatment

  • Most persons with hepatitis can be cared for at home without undue risk. Bed rest, time and good nutrition are essential for a complete recovery. Strict isolation is not necessary, but the ill person should have separate eating and drinking utensils, or use disposable ones.
  • If you are caring for someone with hepatitis, wash your hands carefully and often. If you have hepatitis, wash your hands often­especially after bowel movements.
  • If you are exposed to someone with hepatitis, consult your doctor about receiving gamma-globulin injections to prevent or decrease the risk.
  • If you are in a high-risk group, such as hospital workers or male homosexuals, consult your doctor about receiving a vaccine for Type-B hepatitis. Vaccines are not available for other forms.

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Disclaimer: website is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. Always take the advice of professional health care for specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment. We will not be liable for any complications, or other medical accidents arising from the use of any information on this web site. Please note that medical information is constantly changing. Therefore some information may be out of date.