Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that can be caused by alcohol abuse, toxins, some medications, and other infections, but is most commonly caused by viruses. The most common types of viral hepatitis are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, hepatitis D, and hepatitis E. Transmission and treatment vary depending on the type of hepatitis, but symptoms are similar for all types. Many people with hepatitis do not have any symptoms, but if symptoms do appear, they may include fatigue, nausea and vomiting, dark urine, a loss of appetite, and yellow-colored skin and eyes.
Hepatitis B is transmitted through infected blood and other bodily fluids and is therefore commonly passed through sex, the sharing of needles, or from a mother to her child. A vaccine for hepatitis B does exist and infected adults usually recover from the disease within a few months and are immune to the disease afterwards. However, hepatitis B can cause cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer and can result in death if left untreated. In 2019, there were around 3,200 cases of hepatitis B in the United States, with the state of Florida accounting for 595 such cases, the highest number of hepatitis b infections among the U.S. states. The death rate from hepatitis B is low, but is slightly higher among males than among females.
Hepatitis C, much like hepatitis B, is spread through infected blood. There is no vaccination for hepatitis C and, although in some cases it only lasts for a few weeks, it can also develop into a life-long chronic infection that can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer, and death. In 2019, there were around 4,136 cases of acute hepatitis C infections in the United States. However, during that year, viral hepatitis C caused 14,242 deaths. Acute hepatitis C requires no treatment, but chronic hepatitis C is treated with several different medications. Hepatitis C medications have changed and improved over the years and it is now predicted that, due to increased screening and the availability of new treatments, around 267,000 liver-related deaths due to hepatitis C will be avoided by the year 2050.
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