Hepatitis B vs. Hepatitis C : Differences and Similarities

Your liver is an essential organ that detoxifies your body by removing toxins and keeps your body functioning intact. However, your liver is often prone to various diseases affecting your health. One such common disease is Hepatitis, the inflammation of the liver that is of many types and the type is determined by the source of the cause. The most common types are hepatitis B and hepatitis C, and each of them affects the liver in similar ways. But how to distinguish them? And how similar are these conditions?

What is hepatitis B

Hepatitis B causes inflammation in the liver, which is transmitted through bodily fluids. It can be both an acute and chronic condition. Hepatitis B, if prolonged for a long time, can lead to severe liver damage, cirrhosis and sometimes liver disease.

What is Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is an infection that is spread through blood contact from an infected person. Compared to other types of Hepatitis, hepatitis C can last for a longer time. It isn't easy to detect since it doesn't show overt symptoms. But if left for a long time, it can lead to liver failure.

How similar are they?

Both hepatitis C and hepatitis B are viral infections and are common causes of liver diseases. They both have a few similarities in the mode of transmission, duration, etc. The few similarities are :

  • Transmission :

  • Both hepatitis B and C have similar modes through which they get transmitted. Both viruses are transmitted through similar ways, i.e., you are more prone to these diseases if you use contaminated needles accidentally, needle stick, do tattoos and body piercing, get involved in sexual contact, and also from mother to baby during childbirth.

  • Early symptoms :

  • The early symptoms of both types of Hepatitis are very similar. The symptoms include mild flu, fatigue, dark urine, loss of appetite and sometimes jaundice. When you experience these mild symptoms last for a week, but sometimes, you can't see any signs in both cases, and your liver will be affected.

  • Duration :

  • If you are affected by either of the infections, they can last for a short time, sometimes (acute), and sometimes, they can even last for a lifetime, causing chronic illness.

What distinguishes them?

Though both these infections have few similarities, you can find some differences that distinguish them that are reflected in both of their treatments as well. Some of the differences include :

  • Vaccination :

  • Though both are common diseases that pose a threat to your life, there is a vaccination only for Hepatitis B found until now because it is much more common compared to hepatitis C. So, there is a vaccine to protect yourself from it, but there is ongoing research for hepatitis C vaccination.

  • Transmission :

  • Hepatitis B is transmitted through blood and body fluids, whereas hepatitis C is primarily transmitted through blood.

  • Risk of cancer :

  • Both types of viruses cause liver damage, but if you have hepatitis B, you are at greater risk of developing liver cancer. Whereas if you have hepatitis C, you have an increased chance of developing cirrhosis and other liver diseases but not liver cancer.

  • Chronicity :

  • Hepatitis B and C both can turn out to be chronic sometimes. However, chronic hepatitis C is more common than chronic Hepatitis. In more than 60% of people, hepatitis C goes undiagnosed, and it is one of the reasons for its chronicity.

  • Treatment :

  • Hepatitis C can be treated using medications within 8-12 weeks of its use. But hepatitis B, if needed, has to be used for the long term. Also, hepatitis C, even after the cure, can recur if you are involved in a few unsafe activities like unprotected sex and sharing of needles.

    There are many differences and few similarities that help in diagnosing and treating the conditions. Both these diseases sometimes show their symptoms, but sometimes they don't. And if it goes undiagnosed, it will pose a threat to your health and life. So, it is always better to keep yourself away from these diseases. So avoid engaging in unsafe sex using contaminated needles and always take measures if you see any early symptoms. And also Keep your liver away from these diseases by leading a healthy lifestyle.