Hepatitis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment
Hepatitis is the inflammaton of the liver tissue that causes long term damage.
The liver is the largest organ inside the body. The liver performs many critical functions that aids metabolism like detoxification of blood, production of bile which is important for digestion and storage of glycogen.
According to the US NIH, hepatitis may be acute or chronic depending on its duration, whether it lasts for less than six months or more than ten months.
Acute hepatitis may sort itself out on its own with the right diet and care or develop slowly into chronic hepatitis. With time, hepatitis may result in liver damage, cirrhosis, liver failure or liver cancer.
Most Hepatitis is caused by viruses and are classified as hepatitis A, B, C,D and E. The three most common hepatitis virus are A, B, and C. Infection due to any of these three can be fatal.
Hepatitis A occurred in more than 114 million people, hepatitis B affected 343 million people and hepatitis C around 142 million people worldwide in the year 2015.
The major cause of hepatitis worldwide is viruses that are infectious, but it can also affect a person due to some other non-infectious factors.
Infectious causes include:
Hepatitis A is caused by the hepatitis A virus, also known as HAV. The virus is most commonly transmitted when you ingest food or water contaminated with fecal matter.
The virus can spread by eating raw shellfish from sewage polluted water, drinking contaminated water, eating food handled by someone infected by the virus.
Hepatitis B infection is caused by the hepatitis B virus or HBV. It is spread through direct contact with body fluids like semen, blood vaginal secretion of a person infected with HBV.
The virus can spread through sexual contact, having unprotected sex with someone who is infected, sharing of needles, infected pregnant women can also spread the virus to their babies during childbirth.
One can also contract it through tattooing, body piercing and sharing razors that is contaminated with infected blood.
Hepatitis C infection is caused by the hepatitis C virus or HCV and spreads through contact with contaminated blood. The virus is generally spread by needle sharing among drug users, blood transfusion, and sexual contact.
Hepatitis D infection is caused by hepatitis D virus and is contracted through infected blood.
Hepatitis D only occurs in conjunction with hepatitis B as the virus only multiplies in the presence of hepatitis B.
Hepatitis E is a water-borne disease caused by the hepatotis E virus. It mainly spreads through contaminated food and water and is mainly found in areas with poor sanitation.
Non-infectious factors include excessive alcohol consumption '(this type of hepatitis is known as alcoholic hepatitis), auto-immune diseases, medications, and toxins.
Acute hepatitis may be accompanied by
loss of appetite
Chronic hepatitis develops slowly, so the signs and symptoms may be difficult to notice.
In order to make a diagnosis, your doctor may review your medical history to know if you have any risk factors for infectious or non-infectious hepatitis.
If hepatitis is suspected, the type and severity may only be diagnosed through a laboratory test, or a liver biopsy.
Acute hepatitis A, B and E usually do not need any treatment as they are short termed and typically resolves on its own.
The initial treatment involves resting, relieving symptoms of nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting along with maintaining an optimal levels of fluids.
Chronic hepatitis B and C may be treated with antiviral medications.
In autoimmune hepatitis, certain medications may include medicines to suppress the immune system. Cortisol steroids may be given as they have proved to be effective in about 80 percent of the people suffering from this condition.
Practising safe sex can help reduce the risk of hepatitis infections that are contracted through sexual contact.
In order to prevent hepatitis A, B and D vaccination or immunization is essential.
Pregnant women who develop hepatitis E require attention and care.
(This article is for your general information only. Before trying out any remedy or treatment, FIT advises you to consult a qualified medical professional.)
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