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Chronic Hepatitis

What is Chronic hepatitis?

Hepatitis is inflammation (swelling) of the liver. A chronic illness is one that lasts a long time or may not go away at all. Chronic hepatitis lasts for 6 months or longer. Chronic hepatitis usually develops from acute hepatitis. An acute illness is one that comes on quickly and goes away quickly.

  • Usually, chronic hepatitis is caused by the hepatitis B or C virus or certain drugs
  • Most people have no symptoms, but some people may feel a little sick, tired, or not hungry
  • Sometimes, chronic hepatitis can cause serious problems over time, such as cirrhosis
  • Chronic hepatitis can last for years
  • Doctors can treat chronic hepatitis with medicine, but you may need a liver transplant eventually

What causes chronic hepatitis?

Chronic hepatitis is usually caused by one of the hepatitis viruses, especially hepatitis B and C.
Chronic hepatitis can also be caused by:

  • Some kinds of medicine, especially if you take them for a long time
  • Certain diseases, such as alcoholic hepatitis, fatty liver disease, and others
  • Autoimmune reactions (when the body attacks the liver)
Doctors don't know exactly what causes chronic hepatitis in some people.

What are the symptoms of chronic hepatitis?

About 2 out of 3 people with chronic hepatitis develop it gradually and have no symptoms until they develop cirrhosis (scarring of the liver). You have acute hepatitis first. A few weeks later, you could have symptoms such as: