An inflammation of the Liver Tissue is called hepatitis. It is usually caused by a virus while there may be other reasons for the same. There are various types of hepatitis depending on the nature of the virus that causes the condition. Other possible causes include autoimmune hepatitis and secondary effects of medications, drugs, alcohol or toxins. Hepatitis may show symptoms such as yellow discoloration of the skin, vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal pain or diarrhea.
Hepatitis impacts the Liver which is an essential part of the human body. The Liver is a vital organ, located in the upper right area of the abdomen. It performs various critical functions that impact the body’s metabolism.
Some of the key functions performed by the liver are:
- Filtering toxins from the body
- Production of bile, an essential part of digestion
- Clotting factors’ synthesis
- Synthesis of blood proteins, such as albumin
- Secretion of cholesterol, hormones, and bilirubin
- Store Vitamins (A, D, E and K), minerals and glycogen
- Carbohydrates, fats and proteins’ breakdown
- Creation of enzymes, which are specialized proteins essential for body functions.
There are mainly 5 types of viral hepatitis. They are classified as Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. Some of these are temporary (acute) while some of them last for a lifetime (chronic). The cause, prevention, symptoms, diagnosis, and cure are detailed below.
Hepatitis A is caused by the virus type A. It spreads through the feces of an infected person. Avoiding consumption of outside food, drinking clean filtered water are some key precautionary methods to prevent Hepatitis A.
It is acute (temporary in nature) and can be diagnosed through a spectrum of blood tests. There are no medications to cure hepatitis A, and the condition resolves on its own over time. Regular liver function tests are recommended during the course of recovery.
This is also known as serum hepatitis. While Hepatitis B is often acute (temporary), it may lead to chronic liver issues such as cirrhosis, liver failure or liver cancer. In some cases, a liver transplant may be required.
Symptoms are often seen after a few months of contracting the infection. These include nausea, vomiting, stomach ache, mild fever, joint and muscle pains, loss of appetite and yellowing of the skin and the white part of the eye. Most symptoms of hepatitis remain the same across types.
Hepatitis B is diagnosed via blood tests for the HBV virus and antibodies. Hepatitis B spreads through the body fluids and blood. Precautionary measures include using fresh syringes, avoiding any contact with the blood of an infected person, and avoiding contact with those infected. Having sex with an infected partner or sharing razors increase the risk of contraction. Hepatitis B often cures on its own. However, to avoid the infection from becoming severe or chronic, doctors may put a patient on anti-viral drugs.
Hepatitis C occurs in both, acute and chronic forms. Acute Hepatitis C may resolve on its own within 6 months. In case that does not happen, the patient is at a risk of chronic Hepatitis C. In the chronic condition, the patient will require lifelong care and often patients require a liver transplant.
Hepatitis C spreads only through the blood and therefore can be avoided by following necessary precautions to avoid contact with infected blood. On diagnosis through a blood test, Hepatitis C cases will need to undergo a liver biopsy so that the doctors can better understand how it is functioning. Treatment for chronic and acute hepatitis C varies. In the case of acute hepatitis, it is usually advised to consume a lot of fluids and take maximum rest. In case the infection is chronic, antiviral drugs are prescribed and patients may require a liver transplant.
Also known as Delta hepatitis, Hepatitis D is contracted by infection from HDV. HDV cannot grow or multiply on its own and needs the presence of Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) in order to breed. Therefore, patients suffering from Hepatitis B are at a greater risk of contracting Hepatitis D.
Avoiding Hepatitis B also leads to prevention of hepatitis D. The cure is often antiviral drugs, though they are known to have little impact on the Hepatitis D virus. It is diagnosed through blood tests.
This is a waterborne disease and also spreads via the faeces of infected patients. Areas where open defecation is practiced, are at a higher risk of a hepatitis E epidemic. Symptoms include skin rash, signs of jaundice, joint pain and nausea among others. Eating properly cooked food and drinking filtered boiled water are key to avoid contracting the HEV which causes hepatitis E.
Hepatitis E will often resolve on its own. In the scenario that it does not resolve on its own, doctors may prescribe antiviral drugs to eliminate the virus from the body and avoid it from becoming severe.
Overall, hepatitis can be prevented by following simple precautions. In case symptoms point towards hepatitis, it is advised to consult a doctor at the earliest.