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Chronic persistent hepatitis

Definition

Chronic persistent hepatitis is mild liver inflammation that may be caused by various viruses and conditions.

See also: Hepatitis

Alternative Names

Persistent hepatitis; Hepatitis - persistent; Chronic lobular hepatitis; Mild chronic hepatitis

Causes

Chronic persistent hepatitis can be caused by:

  • Autoimmune diseases such as lupus
  • Hepatitis B (HBV)
  • Hepatitis C (HCV)
  • Hepatitis D (HDV)
  • Various medications
  • Unknown (cryptogenic) causes

Symptoms

Note: There may be no symptoms.

Exams and Tests

  • Hepatitis B surface antigen (may be positive)
  • Hepatitis C antibody (may be positive)
  • Hepatitis D antibody (may be positive)
  • Tests for lupus or other autoimmune disease (may be positive)
  • Liver biopsy
  • Liver enzymes (slightly high and usually how this condition is detected)

Treatment

Treatment is not always needed and depends on the underlying cause of the hepatitis. Each case should be reviewed to determine whether treatment would be helpful. New therapies for chronic viral infections are now able to stop or reverse some liver damage caused by certain viruses.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Most people recover from symptoms of chronic hepatitis. However, if the condition is caused by a virus such as HCV that can cause progressive liver damage, the hepatitis may worsen and cause severe liver scarring, liver failure, and potentially death.

Possible Complications

Progression to liver failure is uncommon with many causes of chronic hepatitis. However, people with viral hepatitis or depressed immune systems, including those with HIV, are at higher risk.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if symptoms of hepatitis worsen or persist.

Prevention

Persons in high-risk groups, such as health care workers, can receive a hepatitis B immunization. Practicing safe sex can reduce your risk of getting hepatitis through sexual contact.

Intravenous drug users should seek addiction treatment and avoid sharing needles and other injection-related materials. You may contract hepatitis by touching an infected person's IV drug supplies. Several forms of viral hepatitis spready much more easily through the blood than HIV, and the viruses can live for hours, even in dried blood.


Review Date: 9/24/2008
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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