Hepatitis refers to liver inflammation. This condition can be caused by alcohol consumption, certain health conditions, or medications.
However, viral infections are the most frequent cause of hepatitis.
This article will discuss the various types of hepatitis and their common symptoms and causes. It also explains how to treat and prevent it.
Hepatitis: what is it and how can it be prevented?
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. And it is also the most commonly caused by a viral infection. However, there are other causes.
These include autoimmune liver disease and secondary effects of drugs, toxins, and alcohol. Autoimmune Hepatitis occurs when your body produces antibodies against your liver tissue.
There are five major viral types of hepatetis: hepatitis A (B, C, D), C, D, D, and D. Each type of viral hepatetis is caused by a different virus.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are currently 354,000,000 people living with chronic hepatetis B or C.
Hepatitis A is caused by infection with the Hepatitis A virus. This is a short-term, acute form of hepatites.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV), causes. This is a chronic, ongoing condition. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 826,000 people in the United States have chronic hepatetis. This figure is comparable to around 257,000,000 people around the world.
Hepatitis C is caused by the hepatetis C viral (HCV). HCV is a common viral infection that causes blood problems in the United States. It can be long-term.
The CDC estimates that approximately 2.4 million Americans have a chronic form.
This rare form of hepatitis is only found in people with hepatetis B. Like other strains of hepatetis, the hepatetis D virus (HDV), causes liver inflammation. However, a person can’t contract HDV if they have hepatetis B.
HDV is a global problem that affects nearly 5 % of people who have chronic hepatetis B.
Hepatitis E occurs when a person is exposed to the hepatitis E (HEV) virus. Hepatetis E is most common in areas that have poor sanitation. It usually results from the ingestion of fecal matter, which can contaminate the water supply.
According to the CDC, this disease is rare in the United States.
Hepatetis E can be dangerous for pregnant women and is often acute.
Hepatitis can be caused by infection or other factors.
Other toxins and alcohol
Excessive alcohol consumption may cause liver damage or inflammation. This condition is also known as alcoholic liver disease.
Your liver cells are directly damaged by alcohol. It can cause permanent damage to your liver cells and cause scarring or thickening of the liver tissue ( liver cirrhosis), and liver failure.
Other causes of liver disease include the misuse of medication and exposure to toxic substances.
Autoimmune system response
Sometimes, the immune system mistakenly attacks the liver for being harmful. This can cause chronic inflammation, which can be mild or severe and often affects liver function. It is three times more common in women than it is in men.
You may not experience symptoms if you have a chronic form such as hepatitis B or C. Acute hepatetis, on the other hand, may be present within a few days of contracting a virus.
is one of the most common symptoms of viral hepatetis.
- Flu-like Symptoms
- dark urine
- pale stool
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes could be a sign of jaundice
How is hepatitis diagnosed?
To properly treat hepatitis, it is important to know what causes it. To diagnose you accurately, doctors will use a variety of tests.
History and physical exam
Your doctor will take your medical history in order to diagnose any form of hepatitis.
Your doctor might gently press on your abdomen during a physical exam to check for tenderness or pain. Your doctor will also examine your liver for swelling and yellow discoloration.
Tests of liver function
Liver function testing uses blood samples to test how efficiently your liver functions.
These abnormal results may indicate a problem. This is especially true if there are no signs of liver disease on your physical exam. Your liver may be stressed or damaged, or your liver may not function properly if you have high liver enzyme levels.
Additional blood tests
Your doctor may order additional blood tests to determine the cause of abnormal liver function tests.
These tests can detect if you have hepatitis. They check for the presence or absence of hepatietis virus antibodies.
To check for signs of autoimmune liver disease, doctors may order blood tests.
Doctors will examine your liver to determine if you have hepatitis. A liver biopsy involves taking a small amount of your liver tissue.
The sample may be taken by a medical professional through your skin using a needle. This will eliminate the need to have surgery. During this procedure, they will usually use an ultrasound scan to guide them.
This test will allow your doctor to assess how inflammation or infection has affected your liver.
An abdominal ultrasound uses ultrasonic waves to take a picture of your abdomen. This allows your doctor to examine your liver and other organs. This test can reveal:
- Fluid in your abdomen
- Liver damage or enlargement
- Liver tumors
- Abnormalities in your gallbladder
Sometimes, the ultrasound images can also show the pancreas. This test can help you determine the reason for your abnormal liver function.
How to treat hepatitis
The type of hepatitis and the severity of the condition will determine the treatment options.
Hepatitis A may not need treatment as it is a temporary illness. Bed rest may be required if you experience severe discomfort. Your doctor may also recommend a diet program to help you hydrate and maintain your nutrition if you have vomiting, diarrhea.
A specific treatment program is not available for acute hepatitis B.
If you have chronic hepatetis B you will need antiviral medication. This type of treatment is expensive and may be required for many months or even years.
Chronic hepatetis B treatment requires regular medical evaluations to monitor the progress of the virus and to establish if it is responding to treatment.
Both acute and chronic forms can be treated with antiviral medication.
People with chronic hepatitis C typically use a combination of antiviral drug therapies. Further testing may be required to determine the best treatment.
A liver transplant may be possible for those who have cirrhosis or have liver disease caused by chronic hepatetis C.
The WHO recommends pegylated interferon-alpha (a treatment for hepatitis D) as an option. However, side effects can be severe. It is not recommended for those suffering from cirrhosis, liver damage, psychiatric conditions, or people with autoimmune disorders.
There are currently no medical treatments for hepatitis E.
People with this infection will usually be advised by doctors to get enough sleep, drink lots of fluids, get enough nutrients, avoid alcohol, and get plenty of rest. Pregnant women with this infection need to be closely monitored and treated.
The early treatment of autoimmune liver disease is crucial with the use of corticosteroids like prednisone and budesonide. They are effective in about 80% of people with this condition.
Azathioprine, also known as Imuran, is a drug that suppresses your immune system. It may be used in treatment programs. This drug can be used with or without steroids.
In addition to azathioprine, other immune-suppressing drugs such as mycophenolate (CellCept), Tarolimus(Prograf), or Cyclosporine [Neoral] can be used in place of it.
Hepatitis prevention tips
Many hepatitis virus vaccines are available. It is important to reduce your exposure to these viruses.
A vaccine against hepatitis A can be obtained and may help to prevent HAV from being contracted. There are two doses of the hepatetis A vaccine required. Most children start vaccination between 12 and 23 months. Adults can also get this vaccine.
The CDC recommends hepatetis B vaccines for all newborns. The series of three vaccines is typically administered by doctors during the first six months of childhood.
The CDC recommends that all healthcare workers and medical professionals receive the vaccine. Hepatetis D can be prevented by vaccinating against hepatetis B.
Hepatetis C and E vaccines are not available at this time.
Hepatitis virus can be transmitted from one person to another through contact with bodily fluids, food, or water containing infectious agents. This virus infection can be prevented by minimizing your exposure to these substances.
Effective hygiene can help you avoid contracting hepatetis A or E. Avoid traveling to countries where hepatetis is prevalent.
- Local water
- Oysters and shellfish can be raw or undercooked
- Raw fruits and vegetables
Contact with bodily fluids containing infectious agents can lead to the transmission of hepatetis B and C viruses.
You can lower your chances of getting in contact with fluids containing these virus-laden viruses by:
- Not to share needles
- Not sharing razors
- Not to use someone else’s toothbrush
- Not to touch spilled blood
Hepatetis B or C can be transmitted through sexual intercourse and contact. The risk of infection can be reduced by using barrier methods such as condoms or dental dams during sexual activity.
Chronic hepatitis C or B can cause more serious health problems. People with chronic hepatetis B/C are at greater risk because the virus attacks the liver.
- Chronic liver disease
- Liver Cancer
Liver failure is a condition where your liver ceases to function normally. Liver failure can lead to:
- bleeding disorders
- Ascites are a buildup in the fluid around your abdomen.
- portal hypertension is an increase in blood pressure in the portal veins that enter your liver.
- kidney disease
- Hepatic Encephalopathy can cause fatigue, memory loss, and diminished mental ability.
- A hepatocellular carcinoma is a form of liver cancer.
Chronic hepatitis B or C patients should abstain from alcohol. Alcohol can cause liver disease and even death. Supplements and medications can also have an impact on liver function. Before you start taking any new medication if you have chronic hepatetis B/C, consult your doctor.