• Definition

    Hepatitis is swelling and inflammation of the liver. It is not a condition, but is often used to refer to a viral infection of the liver.

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Hepatitis can be caused by:

    • Immune cells in the body attacking the liver and causing autoimmune hepatitis
    • Infections from viruses (such as hepatitis A, B, or C), bacteria, or parasites
    • Liver damage from alcohol, poisonous mushrooms, or other poisons
    • Medications, such as an overdose of acetaminophen, which can be deadly

    For more information about the causes and risk factors for different types of hepatitis, see also:

    • Alcoholic hepatitis
    • Autoimmune hepatitis
    • Delta agent (hepatitis D)
    • Drug-induced hepatitis
    • Hepatitis A
    • Hepatitis B
    • Hepatitis C

    Liver disease can also be caused by inherited disorders such as cystic fibrosis or hemochromatosis, a condition that involves having too much iron in your body (the excess iron deposits in the liver).

    Other causes include Wilson's disease.