Everything You Need To Know About Hepatitis

Hepatitis is a group of viral infections affecting the liver. Learn about types, symptoms, transmission, prevention, and treatment to protect your liver health.

By URLife Team
28 Jul 2023

A 2023 report by the World Health Organisation shows that every 1 in 20 individuals across the globe suffer from viral Hepatitis. Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by viral infections (hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E), alcohol abuse, toxins, certain medications or autoimmune diseases.The condition ranges in severity, from mild and self-limiting to chronic and potentially life-threatening.


Viral hepatitis is one of the most common forms and is primarily caused by five different viruses:

  • Hepatitis A virus (HAV)
  • Hepatitis B virus (HBV)
  • Hepatitis C virus (HCV)
  • Hepatitis D virus (HDV)
  • Hepatitis E virus (HEV)


These viruses target the liver and can lead to acute or chronic hepatitis, with long-term consequences for liver health.


Need all your wellness solutions in one place? A whole new world awaits just a click away.


Related story: 7 Ways To Cut Your Risk For Alzheimer's Disease


Hepatitis A (HAV)

Hepatitis A is caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV), which is primarily transmitted through the ingestion of contaminated food or water. Hepatitis A is usually a short-term, acute infection, and most people recover without any long-term complications. Vaccination is available to prevent HAV infection.


Hepatitis B (HBV)

According to the WHO, every year over 1,15,000 Indians die of Hepatitis B related complications, making it the most common and severe type of hepatitis.


Hepatitis B is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV), which is transmitted through contact with infected blood, unprotected sexual contact, and from mother to child during childbirth. HBV can cause both acute and chronic infections. Acute infections may cause mild illness, similar to hepatitis A, while chronic infections can lead to serious liver problems, including cirrhosis and liver cancer. Vaccination against hepatitis B is highly effective and is recommended for all individuals, especially infants and high-risk groups.


Related story: Common Myths About Caring For A Baby


Hepatitis C (HCV)

Hepatitis C is caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV) and is primarily transmitted through contact with infected blood, often associated with unsafe injection practices, transfusions before blood screening was implemented, and sometimes through sexual contact. Many people with HCV may not experience any symptoms initially, but if left untreated, chronic HCV infection can lead to severe liver damage, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. Antiviral medications are available to treat hepatitis C.


Hepatitis D (HDV)

Hepatitis D, also known as delta hepatitis, is caused by the hepatitis D virus (HDV). HDV is an incomplete virus that requires the presence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) to replicate and cause infection. This means that HDV can only infect individuals who are already infected with HBV. The presence of HDV can worsen the severity of HBV infection and increase the risk of chronic liver disease.


Related story: 7 Ways To Boost your Baby's Brain Development 


Hepatitis E (HEV)

Hepatitis E is caused by the hepatitis E virus (HEV) and is mainly transmitted through the consumption of contaminated water or food, similar to hepatitis A. While hepatitis E is usually a self-limiting acute infection, it can be severe in pregnant women, especially during the third trimester, leading to a higher risk of mortality. There is no specific treatment for hepatitis E, but prevention measures focus on ensuring safe drinking water and proper sanitation.


Types of hepatitis Common route of transmission
Hepatitis A Transmits through contaminated food and water.
Hepatitis B Transmits through bodily fluids like blood and sexual contact.
Hepatitis C Mostly spreads through blood-to-blood contact. 
Hepatitis D This is a coinfection with Hepatitis B and worsens its symptoms. 
Hepatitis E Similar to Hepatitis A, Hepatitis E is transmitted through contaminated food and water. 


Related story: Healing Your Liver: Fatty Liver 101


Symptoms of Viral Hepatitis

The symptoms of hepatitis can vary depending on the type and stage of the infection, but common signs include

  • Fatigue 
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Nausea
  • Dark Urine
  • Joint pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Light-coloured stools


Related story: Doctor's Rx For Treating Viral Fever Symptoms


The Link Between Vital Hepatitis and Gender

Viral hepatitis can affect women differently than men in some aspects. While the basic mechanism of the virus remains the same regardless of gender, there are certain factors specific to women that can influence the course and impact of viral hepatitis infections. Here are some key differences.

Hormonal Influences

Female hormones, particularly oestrogen, can affect the immune response to viral hepatitis. During pregnancy, hormonal changes might alter the severity and outcome of hepatitis infections. For example, some studies suggest that women infected with hepatitis B virus (HBV) during pregnancy have a higher risk of transmitting the virus to their babies.


Pregnancy and Mother-to-Child Transmission

Viral hepatitis, especially hepatitis B and C, can be transmitted from an infected mother to her child during childbirth. This vertical transmission can have long-term consequences for the child's health. Preventive measures, such as antiviral treatment during pregnancy and vaccination of newborns, are essential to reduce this risk.


Related story: Kangroo Care-The Benefits of Skin-to-skin Contact For Newborns


Progression of Liver Disease

Studies have shown that women infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) may experience a slower progression of liver fibrosis compared to men. However, once women develop advanced liver disease, they might have a higher risk of developing liver-related complications 


Fertility and Reproductive Health

Some antiviral medications used to treat hepatitis infections can impact fertility and have implications for women of childbearing age. Proper counselling and coordination between healthcare providers are essential for managing these concerns.


Related story: 5 Rules To Live By For Better Reproductive and Sexual Health


Diagnosis of Viral Hepatitis

As per the report presented by National Center for Biotechnology Information, Hepatitis in India is now equated as a threat comparable to the “big three” communicable diseases – HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Hence, timely diagnosis and treatment is very crucial.


Doctors will conduct a thorough medical history, physical examination, and may ask for specific tests to diagnose the type of viral hepatitis accurately. These tests may include blood tests to check for liver function and specific viral markers.


Related story: Your Guide to Good Health—Women’s reproductive and sexual health through the 20s to 40s and 50s


Preventive Measures from Viral Hepatitis

Different types of viral hepatitis (A, B, C, D, and E) have distinct modes of transmission, and therefore, preventive measures can vary accordingly. Here are some general prevention strategies for viral hepatitis.


Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent hepatitis A and hepatitis B infections. Vaccines are safe and highly recommended for individuals at risk, including healthcare workers, travellers to high-risk areas, people with multiple sexual partners, and those who use injectable drugs. Completing the recommended vaccine schedule provides long-lasting protection against these viruses.


Practice Safe Hygiene

Proper handwashing with soap and clean water is essential to prevent the spread of hepatitis A and E, which are commonly transmitted through contaminated food and water. Avoid consuming raw or undercooked shellfish and maintain healthy food hygiene practices.


Safe Sexual Practices

Hepatitis B and C can be transmitted through sexual contact. Using condoms consistently can reduce the risk of transmission. Regular testing for sexually transmitted infections is also important.


Related story: How To Practice Safe Sex


Avoid Sharing Needles and Personal Items

Hepatitis B, C, and D can be transmitted through the sharing of contaminated needles and syringes. Avoid sharing personal items like razors, toothbrushes, and manicure tools.


Screening and Early Diagnosis

Regular screening for hepatitis B and C is crucial, especially for individuals with known risk factors. Early diagnosis allows for timely medical intervention, which can prevent disease progression and reduce the risk of complications.


Mother-to-Child Transmission Prevention

Pregnant women infected with hepatitis B should receive antiviral treatment during pregnancy to reduce the risk of transmission to their newborns. Hepatitis B vaccination for all newborns, along with hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG) administration, is recommended for infants born to HBV-infected mothers.


Need all your wellness solutions in one place? A whole new world awaits just a click away.


Regular health checks are essential for everyone, but they are particularly important for individuals who are at risk of or already have Hepatitis infection. Taking regular health checks can help detect viral Hepatitis at an early stage when it is easier to manage and treat. With the UR.Life HRA, we help you to invest in your well-being through seamless interventions and targeted medical treatments. Our holistic wellness approach caters to all aspects of your well-being. We ensure that you can bring your whole self to work.

With our medical professionals by your side, routine health check-ups will never be an issue. Advanced laboratory technologies back UR.Life’s Occupational Health Centers (OHC), and with highly qualified experts/technicians, we’re committed to delivering trusted and quality recommendations, modifications and advice to you.




Anjaneya Reddy 07 Aug 2023


Follow Us On Instagram