Skip to main content

Differences Between Hepatitis A, B, C and D

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.


Hepatitis Statistics

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated 399,000 people had hepatitis A in 2016. Mortality was at 0.5%.

In 2016, there were 27 million people living with hepatitis B.

WHO also estimated in 2016, that approximately 399,000 people died with hepatitis C, typically the cause of death was cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.

Hepatitis Facts

Hepatitis A is not as serious as hepatitis B and C. There is a vaccine for hepatitis A and B that will help prevent the disease. Each of the hepatitis diseases are viral in nature.

  • Hepatitis A is typically transmitted via the fecal-oral route or through the consumption of contaminated water or food.
  • Hepatitis B is transmitted through blood, semen, or other body fluids.
  • Hepatitis C is transmitted through unprotected sex and sharing of needles with someone who has this illness. Choose a clean tattoo shop that uses sterile needles and be cautious with body piercing.
  • Hepatitis D virus occurs among people who are already infected with hepatitis B

There are 7 distinctly different genotypes of hepatitis B and over 67 subtypes have been identified. In the U.S. the more common genotype type is 1.

Hepatitis A and B - Nucleus Health

Hepatitis A Facts

The signs and symptoms of hepatitis A do not appear until a few weeks after you get exposed to the virus, and some people do not become ill. Hepatitis A does not result in a chronic disease as it is self-limiting.

The symptoms include a poor appetite, fatigue, nausea, stomach pain and jaundice. This illness has symptoms in a two month timeframe. Children under the age of six do not have symptoms. The body produces antibodies in response to hepatitis A, so you are then protected for life. There is no treatment necessary unless you need to treat the specific symptoms. The most important way to prevent this disease is to get the preventative vaccine.


Hepatitis B Facts

Hepatitis B ranges from a mild case to a severe one. The symptoms typically appear from one to four months after you have become infected, although it is possible to have symptoms as early as two weeks. Young children may not have any symptoms.

Symptoms include:

  • Dark urine
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Poor appetite
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Jaundice - skin and whites of the eyes become yellow
  • Clay-colored stools
  • Pain in the joints, muscles
  • Right upper quadrant pain

Hepatitis B may be acute or chronic if it lasts over six months and the incubation period is 30-180 days. Acute hepatitis B is a short-term disease. Once the symptoms begin the liver becomes inflamed and the liver enzymes will increase. There is no specific treatment, but the disease usually resolves within 6 months. This illness can cause liver failure or cirrhosis or cancer of the liver.

Chronic hepatitis B is a long-term disease that lasts over six months, and most people do not have symptoms. This is serious, however, as cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer or even death may occur. A chronically infected person who does not look ill may still spread the illness to others.

The hepatitis B vaccine is four injections given over one to six months. It is recommended for newborns, children or adolescents who have not been vaccinated, healthcare and emergency workers and those with multiple sex partners. Others who need the vaccine include those with chronic liver or kidney disease and if you are traveling to an area of the world with a high hepatitis B infection rate.

The treatment for this illness includes antiviral medications, which includes:

  • Entecavir (Baraclude)
  • Tenofovir (Viread)
  • Lamivudine (Epivir(
  • Adefovir (Hepsera)
  • Telbivudine (Tyzeka)
Scroll to Continue

Additionally, there are immune modulator drugs that boost the immune system to fight the virus

Liver Disease Stages


Hepatitis C Facts

About fifty percent of the people infected with Hepatitis C do not know they are infected. However, this viral infection that is spread through contaminated blood causes liver inflammation. It is curable with oral medications that are taken daily for two to six months. There is no vaccine for this illness.

The largest at risk group for this disease are those born between 1945 and 1965, therefore, a blood screening is recommended as this group is 5 times more likely to become infected with hepatitis C. Unfortunately, this illness can be a “silent” infection for many years until the liver has enough damage to make the symptoms appear.

The symptoms are only slightly different from hepatitis B, and they include:

  • Bleeding easily
  • Bruising easily
  • Fatigue
  • Jaundice - skin and whites of the eyes become yellow
  • Fatigue
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Itchy skin)
  • Leg swelling
  • Weight loss
  • Confusion, slurred speech and drowsiness (hepatic encephalopathy)
  • Spider-like blood vessels on the skin (spider angiomas)

The risk factors to be aware of include:

A health care worker who is exposed to infected blood

  • If you have HIV
  • Injecting or inhaling illicit drugs
  • Receiving a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992
  • Receiving a tattoo or piercing in an unclean establishment
  • Hemodialysis treatment over a long period of time
  • Were ever in prison
  • Were born to a woman with hepatitis C

Hepatitis C that continues over numerous years will cause liver scarring (cirrhosis), liver cancer and liver failure.

Hepatitis C is Curable - John Hopkins

Hepatitis D Particulars

Hepatitis (delta hepatitis, HDV) was first discovered in 1977, and is unrelated to the hepatitis A, B and C virus. The clinical features of this virus range from acute (self-limiting) to full liver failure. This hepatitis only occurs in those who already have hepatitis B. Intravenous drug abusers and those who have received multiple blood transfusions are at the highest risk. Few treatments are available for hepatitis D.

In Summary

The hepatitis viruses causes serious illnesses that will take a great deal of time for recovery. Some liver damage is often the result. It is wise to get the vaccines that are available, particularly if you are at risk with your job or lifestyle.

Hepatitis Virus


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Pamela Oglesby


Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on July 14, 2020:

Hi Rajan,

Thank you for your comments.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on July 13, 2020:

Useful information on the various types of hepatitis and their differences. Thanks for sharing.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 19, 2019:

Hi Alyssa, I got the vaccine for free also when I was working at a hospital, then I got stuck with a needle and they did lab work that showed I was immune. I think D is rare. Thanks for commenting.

Alyssa from Ohio on September 19, 2019:

Such an informative article! When I worked in healthcare, I was fortunate to get the vaccine for free. When my son was born, we made sure to also get him vaccinated. In the past year, cases of Hep A were found in restaurants in central Ohio. Scary stuff! I had no idea about Hep D, but I have heard about the treatment for Hep C in magazine ads and on TV.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 17, 2019:

Hi Cynthia, Getting hepatitis while donating blood is awful. I sure hope they come up with ways to totally prevent these diseases. Thank you so much for your nice comments.

Cynthia Zirkwitz from Vancouver Island, Canada on September 16, 2019:

Hi Pamela

Another interesting and clearly organized hub about a scary disease. I have a friend who had Hep C as a result of a blood donation. I believe she is better now, but she does have a fatty liver. It is just short amazing that more of us don't have some kind of hepatitis. Thanks for the post and for the hopeful information about a cure!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 08, 2019:

Hi Peggy, I think it is a good idea for anyone that falls in that timeframe to get tested. Thank you so much for your comments.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 08, 2019:

Your articles are always so informative. They have lately been publicizing the need to be checked for hepatitis for baby boomer-aged people. Since it is a disease that can lie dormant without symptoms in some cases, it is a good idea.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 08, 2019:

Hi Ruby, I am glad the article was interesting for you. I appreciate your very nice comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 07, 2019:

Hi Linda, Thank you so much for your very nice comments. Hepatitis is a disease is a disease it is good to know about.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 07, 2019:

This is a very educational and useful article, Pamela. Thank you for sharing all of the information.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 07, 2019:

Hi Chitragada, At least hepatits D is uncommon, and you are right about early treatment. I appreciate your generous comments.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on September 06, 2019:

Excellent and informative article about Hepatitis and it’s different variations. I wasn’t aware about the C and D. Thanks for spreading the awareness. The sooner we get the diagnosis, the easier it becomes to treat the diseases.

Thanks for this well written and researched article.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 06, 2019:

Hi Ms Dora, I don't know anyone with hepatitis either, although I took care of a couple of patients when I was a nurse. It is scary to think you could walk around with no symptoms. Thank you for your comments.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on September 06, 2019:

Thanks for this helpful information. Don't know anyone with any form of hepatitis, but it's scary to think that it's possible to have the disease and not show the symptoms.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 06, 2019:

Hi Shauna, What an awful experience! The only good new is now you and your son have antiboidies and will never contract the disease again. Thank you for sharing that experience.

I didn't realize that the disease was that painful, and I think most of us would like the weight loss. Of course, 11 pounds in 3 days is too fast. I appreciate your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 06, 2019:

Hi Doris, You experienced one of the problems, as so many people have the disease and don't know it because they are never tested. Thank you for sharing your experience, and I do appreciate all of your comments.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on September 06, 2019:

Pamela, this is very informative. I didn't know there's a Hep D.

Back in 1996, my son and I both came down with Hepatitis A. He was only 4, showed no symptoms, with the exception of jaundice, and didn't act as if he were sick. I, on the other hand, oscillated from feeling okay to feeling as if I were dying; the stomach pains are almost unbearable.

I didn't know I had hepatitis at first. My boss told me to see a doctor immediately because the whites of my eyes were yellow. He suspected a gall bladder problem. I'd also lost 11 pounds in three days (which I was elated by, but that much weight loss in such a short time should have triggered a red flag for me). Turns out it wasn't gall bladder. It was Hep A. Once you have it, there's nothing you can do but stay away from proteins (because they affect the liver) and drink plenty of fluids. I think it was a good week before I started feeling human. Thankfully, Hep A does go away on it's own. But, I tell you what - going thru it was pure hell.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on September 06, 2019:

This was very interesting. I learned some new facts concerning Hepatitis. Your hubs are helpful and written well. The research is excellent.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on September 06, 2019:

Very good information. I was confused as to what was casually contagious and what was not. I worked with a man who, after I left the job, was diagnosed with one of the hepatitis varieties and informed me because we had sat at the same work table. Sometime later I developed chronic fatigue, so I asked my doctor to test me for hepatitis. He did and said that I was negative. But he lectured me and said that because of my age I should have been tested for hepatitis C years ago. Just saying if you are in that age group (Pamela mentioned it), go get tested.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 06, 2019:

Hi Linda, I think these different hepatitis viruses are easily confused. I appreciate your kind comments.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on September 06, 2019:

Pamela, I've always been confused about Hep A, B, C--you've done a great job of explaining the diseases.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 06, 2019:

Hi John, I agree. From all my research it sounds like you can walk around for years with with some type of hepatitis and not know it. That is truly scary. Thanks so much for your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 06, 2019:

Hi Billy, I agree that learning something new is so important as we age. I learn when I research these articles. I am appreciative of the fact that you give me positive reviews. Thank you.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on September 06, 2019:

This is an excellent article, Pamela, and a must read because so many people are infected with one or more of these. The scary part is that you can sometimes be infected without even knowing it. Thank you so much for sharing.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 06, 2019:

Always informative. I always learn something new from you, Pamela, and I thank you for that. The day I stop learning will be a sad day for sure.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 06, 2019:

Hi Devika, I agree. The symptoms could easily be mistaken for the flu or other illnesses when it begins. Thank you for your very kind comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 06, 2019:

Hi Lorna, Your generous comments are much appreciated.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 06, 2019:

Hi Lora, As an RN I get the vaccines, but I think it is a good idea for anyone to get the vaccines. I wish there was one for hepatitis C.

I am glad you learned some new facts about hepatitis, and your kind comments are much appreciated.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 06, 2019:

Hi Flourish, I think your friend that found out she had hepatitis when donating blood is not too unusual. Apparently a large group of people have hepatitis, and they do not know it as some do not have symptoms.

I think blowing out candles in a work or even a social setting is probably a bad idea. I am not sure about the coworker that bakes, but it doesn't sound like a great idea. I appreciate your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 06, 2019:

Hi Eric, Full remission sounds like an answer to prayer. I appreciate your comments.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 06, 2019:

An informative and well.-researched hub on this important topic. Often these signs are mistaken for other health issues.

Lorna Lamon on September 06, 2019:

Excellent article Pamela with a concise and interesting explanation of the different types of Hepatitis disease and their effects.

Lora Hollings on September 05, 2019:

Pamela, this is an exceptional article on the different hepatitis viruses and how they can be transmitted, the symptoms, and the damage that they can cause. Prevention is preferable to getting these diseases and avoiding the serious consequences of these illnesses! As you say, it is wise to get the vaccines that are available and take the precautions that you mention in this article. I definitely learned some new things that I didn't know about the hepatitis virus. Thanks for sharing.

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 05, 2019:

One thing I have always been curious about especially since I had a coworker with Hepatitis who would bake items and bring them in for people to eat — is that safe? I’ve also always been icked out by the practice of people blowing out birthday candles — spittle is certainly possible and you don’t know what germs they have. I’m probably overthinking it but I’m glad I can ask you. Your article was excellent. I had friend who discovered they had hepatitis when they donated blood. They were told never to donate again. Heck of a way to find out!

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on September 05, 2019:

Pamela I am twirling a carving from a water buffalo horn on my finger. Myanmar or maybe Burma, seems like the same place to me. I think I drank too much water but it seemed to work.How do you even know with Dilaugtin and methotrexate My doctors all have a habit of shaking their heads at me. Shrinks, GPs, Surgeons and Oncologists just assume.

My wife just assumes Christ wants to punish her hihihi. Full remission once again.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 05, 2019:

Hi Eric, I know that liver damage is a side effect of chemotherapy, but I hate to hear it affected you that way. There is such a thing as water intoxication, which is not good.but you may not have gone that far. Water is good to wash out chemicals from your bodies and maybe that is what you were doing, Be well Eric, my firend.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on September 05, 2019:

My liver was so toxified they could not do a rotten thing. Chemo therapy in advanced stages along with pancreatic involvement will do that. Artichoke and Bittergourd tea along with so much water I got drunk on it - really you can, of course iodine salt is required along with a real healthy diet. Berries are awesome.

My GP laughs at me. He likes to say "why do you even come in?" My liver is one of my best friends. hihihi

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 05, 2019:

Hi Lorelei, I am so glad you found this article helpful. This is an awful disease, if you get the chronic types especially. Thank you for your comments.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 05, 2019:

Hi Liz, We hear so much about these different hepatitis diseases, so I thought it would be good to explain the differences. I am glad you found this article helpful. I appreciate your comments.

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on September 05, 2019:

Excellent article. I was very impressed with the image of liver disease progressions. I learned a lot.

Liz Westwood from UK on September 05, 2019:

I wondered what the difference was between the different types of hepatitis. You have explained them well in this helpful and thorough article.

Related Articles