Kinds of Hepatitis

There are many kinds of hepatitis, including hepatitis A, B, C, D, E, and G. Each kind of hepatitis is caused by a different virus. Some of these do not cause serious infections, and may not even cause symptoms.

Hepatitis A and B are most likely to cause symptoms, and hepatitis B and C have the greatest chance of causing long-term health problems. (There are vaccines available for hepatitis A and hepatitis B. Hepatitis A is a much less serious infection of the liver than hepatitis B and C.)

The biggest differences between the hepatitis B and C viruses are how they are spread, whether they become chronic (lasting more than 6 months), and how the virus mutates. A mutation is a permanent change in the virus’s genetic code, or makeup, resulting in a slightly different form, or strain, of the virus.

Both the hepatitis B and C viruses mutate in the body, but the hepatitis C virus mutates so often that the body ends up fighting many different strains of the virus. Therefore, it is harder for the body to fight hepatitis C than hepatitis B. There is a vaccine for hepatitis B, but not for C.

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