What is Hepatitis
Hepatitis is a disease that includes any type of inflammation of the liver, the result of a complex process that occurs when the liver suffers an injury. The inflammation that lasts less than six months is called acute hepatitis and inflammation that lasts longer than six months is called chronic hepatitis. Hepatitis is usually characterized as viral hepatitis or non-viral hepatitis. Viral hepatitis can be considered "acute" (a condition that comes on rapidly with severe symptoms and a short course) or "chronic" (a condition that comes on slowly, may or may not have symptoms with has a long course).
Common forms of viral hepatitis include:
- Hepatitis A is caused by eating food and drinking water infected with a virus called HAV. It can also be caused by anal-oral contact during sex.
- Hepatitis B is caused by the virus HBV. It is spread by contact with an infected person's blood, semen, or other body fluid. And, it is a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
- Hepatitis C is caused by the virus HCV. It is spread the same way as hepatitis B, through contact with an infected person's blood, semen, or body fluid.
- Hepatitis D is caused by the virus HDV. You can only get hepatitis D if you are already infected with hepatitis B.
- Hepatitis E is caused by the virus HEV. You get hepatitis E by drinking water infected with the virus.
Signs and symptoms
Hepatitis symptoms are:
- Loss of appetite
- Pain in the muscles and joints
- Low blood sugar
If you have any of the above symptoms, you should inform your doctor immediately.
Complications can arise from any number of areas in the body because of the effects of hepatitis. There are several different types of hepatitis which are listed below.
Hepatitis can progress to, or be complicated by other diseases. Some of these diseases, like fibrosis and cirrhosis, are very common. Fortunately, other complications like liver failure are usually prevented.
The causes can be classified as:
Acute Hepatitis Causes:
- Viral hepatitis: Hepatitis A through E (more than 95% of viral cause), Herpes simplex, Cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr, yellow fever virus, adenoviruses.
- Non-viral infection: toxoplasma, Leptospira, Q fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
- Toxins: Amanita toxin in mushrooms, carbon tetrachloride, asafetida.
- Drugs: Paracetamol, amoxycillin, antituberculosis medicines, minocycline and many Others: Ischemic hepatitis (circulatory insufficiency).
- Auto immune conditions, e.g., Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
- Metabolic diseases, e.g., Wilson's disease
Chronic Hepatitis Causes:
- Viral hepatitis: Hepatitis B with or without hepatitis D, hepatitis C (neither hepatitis A nor hepatitis E causes chronic hepatitis).
- Autoimmune: Autoimmune hepatitis.
- Drugs: methyldopa, nitrofurantoin, isoniazid, ketoconazole.
- Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.
- Heredity: Wilson's disease, alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency.
- Primary biliary cirrhosis and primary sclerosing cholangitis occasionally mimic chronic hepatitis.
If we can't protect ourselves from everything, many types of hepatitis are preventable. Vaccines are very effective for preventing infection from hepatitis A and hepatitis B and are easy to get. The best way to prevent hepatitis C infection is to avoid contact with the blood of infected people.
There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A. The doctor will recommend the abstinence of alcohol and drugs during recovery. Most cases of hepatitis A resolve themselves spontaneously.
The only treatment for hepatitis B is rest, combined with a high protein/high carbohydrate diet to repair damaged liver cells and protect the liver. If hepatitis B persists, the doctor may recommend an antiviral agent called interferon.
The only approved treatment for hepatitis C virus, and the only one with demonstrated efficacy, is interferon alfa-2b (Intron A).
Currently, there is not effective treatment for hepatitis D and E.
For treatment of nonviral hepatitis, the doctor will first remove the harmful substance by flushing out the stomach via inducing vomiting or hyperventilation. If necessary, the patient with drug-induced hepatitis will be treated with corticosteroids.