Hepatitis is a liver disease characterized by severe inflammation of the liver. It may result from long-term alcohol abuse, infection, or exposure to various other chemicals or drugs. There are several different types of hepatitis. They are named viral hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. Viral hepatitis can be acute, or short-term. Hepatitis B, C, and D are the chronic forms of the condition, where the infection is prolonged, sometimes lifelong. Hepatitis A, B, and C are the most common forms of the hepatitis virus.

Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is a very contagious form of liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). While hepatitis A can cause inflammation that affects the liver's ability to function correctly it is not considered as serious as other types of the viral hepatitis.

Hepatitis A is usually contracted by consuming contaminated food or water or from someone who is infected with the virus. Carriers of the hepatitis A virus may experience severe flu like symptoms while other with the virus may experience no symptoms at all.

Most individuals with hepatitis A do not require prolonged treatment and recover completely over time. Unlike other forms of the disease, including hepatitis B and C, hepatitis A doesn't lead to more serious and potentially fatal conditions such as chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis.

Effective vaccines are available for people who are most at risk of contracting hepatitis A.

Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is a very serious form of liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Hepatitis B may become chronic for some individuals, leading to cancer of the liver, liver failure or cirrhosis - all of which can cause permanent damage.

Hepatitis B is contracted via the exchange of body fluids with someone who is infected or by coming in contact with contaminated blood. Hepatitis B is spread in much the same way as the AIDS virus, however, hepatitis B is much more infectious than HIV.

Individuals infected as adults with the hepatitis B virus can recover fully, even if their condition is severe. Children infected with the virus are more likely to develop a chronic infection. Currently, there is no cure for hepatitis B but it can be prevented with a vaccine.

Hepatitis C
Surveys estimate that nearly 3 percent or more of the world's population to be infected with the hepatitis C virus. Unlike other forms of the virus hepatitis C carriers often exhibit no outward symptoms. In fact, many of those infected with hepatitis C don't realize they are infected until liver damage shows up many years later.

Among all the hepatitis viruses, hepatitis C is considered to be the most dangerous. Untreated, hepatitis C can lead to many chronic conditions including liver failure, liver cancer and cirrhosis. Hepatitis C is not usually transmitted via sexual contact. It is usually transmitted through contaminated blood.Unlike hepatitis A and B, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C.