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Viral Hepatitis (cont.)

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What is the prognosis of viral hepatitis?

The prognosis of viral hepatitis for most patients is good; however, this prognosis varies somewhat depending on the infecting virus. For example, those patients who develop chronic hepatitis have a worse prognosis because of the potential to develop cirrhosis, liver failure, liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma), and occasionally death. Symptoms of viral hepatitis such as fatigue, poor appetite, nausea, and jaundice usually subside in several weeks to months, without any specific treatment. In fact, virtually all patients with acute infection with HAV and most adults (greater than 95%) with acute HBV recover completely. Complete recovery from viral hepatitis means that:

  • the hepatitis virus has been completely eliminated from the liver by the body's immune system,
  • the inflammation in the liver subsides,
  • the patient develops immunity to future infection with the same virus, and
  • the patient cannot transmit the infection to others.

Unfortunately, not all patients with viral hepatitis recover completely. Five percent of patients with acute HBV infection and about 60% of patients with acute HCV infection develop chronic hepatitis. Patients (about 0.5% to 1%) that develop fulminant hepatitis have about an 80% fatality rate. Chronic HCV infections are the leading cause for liver transplants.

Because the liver works to detoxify substances, this task is compromised during acute and chronic viral hepatitis infections. Consequently, avoiding items that may stress the compromised livers function (for example, alcohol, smoking, taking drugs that require liver processing) should be strongly considered by the patient to improve their prognosis.

Medically reviewed by Robert Cox, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Infectious Disease


CDC. Viral Hepatitis.

CDC. Hepatitis C FAQs for the Public.

CDC. Surveillance for Viral Hepatitis – United States, 2012.

Medscape. Hepatitis B Medication.

Medscape. Hepatitis C Medication.

Medscape. Viral Hepatitis.

UpToDate. GB virus C (hepatitis G) infection.

WHO. Hepatitis B: Are you at risk?

WHO. Hepatitis B.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/29/2016


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