Chronic hepatitis is inflammation of the liver that lasts at least 6 months. Common causes include hepatitis B and C viruses and certain drugs. Many people have no symptoms, but some have vague symptoms, such as a general feeling of illness, poor appetite, and fatigue. Chronic hepatitis can result in cirrhosis, with an enlarged spleen, accumulation of fluid within the abdomen, and deterioration of brain function. A biopsy is done to confirm the diagnosis.
Drugs, such as antiviral drugs or corticosteroids, may be used, and for advanced disease, liver transplantation may be needed.
Chronic hepatitis, although much less common than acute hepatitis, can persist for years, even decades. In many people, it is quite mild and does not cause significant liver damage. However, in some people, continued inflammation slowly damages the liver, eventually resulting in cirrhosis (severe scarring of the liver), liver failure, and sometimes liver cancer.