If you have hepatitis A or B, your liver is inflamed because you have been infected with either the hepatitis A virus or the hepatitis B virus.
Your liver is a soft, flexible organ that performs many important functions.
The functional parts of your liver are called hepatic lobules. Your hepatic lobules filter all of the blood in your body.
As the blood passes through your hepatic lobules break down harmful substances;
remove bacteria and worn out red blood cells; and forms clotting factors that control bleeding.
After a meal, your liver stores nutrients to provide your body with energy when needed.
Your liver also makes a substance called bile.
Your gallbladder stores bile, and releases it into your small intestine to help digest fats in the food you eat.
If you have Hepatitis A, the virus entered your body when you were exposed to fecal matter from a person infected with the virus.
You may have been exposed to the virus by: eating contaminated food or water,
contact with infected feces, such as during a diaper change, or having unprotected sex with a person infected with the virus.
If you have hepatitis B, the virus entered your body when you were exposed to the blood
or other body fluids from a person infected with the virus.
This could have happened from sharing a drug syringe with an infected person.
Other ways you may have been exposed to the virus include: having sex with someone infected by the virus;
sharing personal hygiene items such as razors or toothbrushes used by an infected person;
direct contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person; or when a mother passes it to her baby during birth.
When either the hepatitis A or B virus enters your liver, it invades your liver cells and makes copies of itself.
In response, your body sends immune cells to attack both the virus and liver cells infected with the virus.
As a result, these liver cells become inflamed and then die.
Over time, scar tissue forms around dead and infected liver cells, which prevents your liver from working properly.
If you have a chronic hepatitis B infection, your liver contains a large amount of scar tissue, called cirrhosis,
which limits blood flow and results in permanent shrinking and hardening of your liver.
If you have hepatitis A, your doctor won’t prescribe any medical treatment because
your immune cells will eventually find and destroy all of the hepatitis A viruses in your body.
If you have hepatitis B, your immune system will usually remove all the hepatitis B viruses from your body.
In some people with chronic hepatitis B, particularly children, their immune cells are unable to remove all of the hepatitis B viruses.
If you have chronic hepatitis B and your immune system can’t get rid of the virus completely, your doctor may prescribe antiviral medication.
If you have a severe case of chronic hepatitis B, your doctor may recommend a liver transplant operation.