Hepatitis means "inflammation of the liver", and the most common cause is infection with one of 5 viruses, called hepatitis A,B,C,D, and E. Symptoms lasting several weeks include yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice); dark urine; extreme fatigue; nausea; vomiting and abdominal pain. The inflammation can be acute, flaring up and then resolving within a few weeks to months, or chronic, enduring over many years. Chronic hepatitis may persist for 20 years or more before causing significant symptoms related to progressive liver damage such as cirrhosis, liver cancer, or death.
Viral hepatitis is the leading cause of liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplantation. An estimated 4.4million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis; most do not know they are infected. About 80,000 new infections occur each year.