What’s the Difference Between Hepatitis B and C?

Hepatitis B is a liver condition caused by the hepatitis B virus, while hepatitis C occurs when hepatitis C virus attacks the liver, causing inflammation, says Mayo Clinic. Hepatitis C spread through coming into contact with infected blood, such as sharing infected needles to inject drugs. Hepatitis B mainly spread through sexual contact and birth to a mother with the hepatitis B virus, according to Healthline.

Hepatitis B is either acute or chronic, and it mainly affects infants born to infected mothers. It is also common in sex partners of infected persons or individuals with multiple sex partners. Its incubation period ranges between 45 and 160 days. Hepatitis C is mainly chronic, and it’s common in injection drug users and patients who had a blood transfusion before July 1992. Its incubation period ranges between 14 and 180 days, explains Healthline.

Hepatitis B increases the risk of developing cirrhosis, causing permanent scarring of the liver. As of 2015, there is no cure for hepatitis B, but medication can prevent the spread of the virus to others. Symptoms include loss of appetite, joint pain, abdominal pain and dark urine. Hepatitis C causes no noticeable symptoms during its early stages, and most people become aware of the infection only when liver damage shows up. Over time, symptoms such as itchy skin, swelling in the legs, bleeding easily and fluid accumulation in the abdomen show up, states Mayo Clinic.