What Is the Medical Definition of Chronic Hepatitis?


Quick Answer

The medical definition of chronic hepatitis is liver inflammation that is present for at least 6 months in a patient, as noted by Merck Manual. In some patients, the condition can be mild and present no symptoms, while in others it can lead to symptoms, such as loss of appetite, overall body weakness or fatigue. However, when there is extensive damage to liver cells, it can lead cirrhosis or liver failure.

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Full Answer

The main cause of chronic hepatitis are the hepatitis forms B and C. Hepatitis C accounts for up to 70 percent of the chronic hepatitis cases, states Merck Manual. However, other causes of chronic hepatitis can include certain medications, fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis, autoimmune hepatitis and rare diseases such as Wilson disease.

Hepatitis B and C are viruses. In their early stages, both hepatitis B and C can present very mild symptoms, such as fatigue, abdominal pain and nausea. With the progression of time, these chronic liver infections can become long-term and lead to cirrhosis (liver scarring) or liver cancer, according to Drugs.com. In later stages of chronic hepatitis, symptoms can include jaundice and ascites.

The different types of hepatitis are hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. Although hepatitis B and C may cause chronic hepatitis, the other types do not directly cause chronic hepatitis. However, a type, such as hepatitis D, can occur as a co-infection with hepatitis B, reports Merck Manual.

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