Hepatitis is an inflammation and irritation of the liver caused by viruses or controlled substances, such as drugs and alcohol. Hepatitis caused by a virus is named after the virus: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C.

Hepatitis can also be caused by your body mistaking healthy cells for harmful ones and attacking them.

Some cases of hepatitis show no symptoms while others may show:

  • Jaundice—the yellowing of skin and eyes
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dark-colored urine and pale bowel movements
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea

Hepatitis can be serious or mild. More serious cases can cause cirrhosis—scarring in the liver—or lead to liver cancer. Hepatitis can be acute—healed with time or medications—or chronic, lasting a lifetime.

Vaccines are used to prevent viral hepatitis.