Viral Hepatitis - How You Got it

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Viral hepatitis definition and overview

Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. Many illnesses and conditions can cause inflammation of the liver, for example, drugs, alcohol, chemicals, and autoimmune diseases. Many viruses, for example, the virus of mononucleosis and the cytomegalovirus can inflame the liver. Most viruses, however, do not attack primarily the liver; the liver is just one of several organs that the viruses affect. When doctors speak of viral hepatitis, they are using the definition that means hepatitis caused by a few specific viruses that primarily attack the liver and are responsible for about half of all human hepatitis. There are several hepatitis viruses; they have been named types A, B, C, D, E, F (not confirmed), and G. As our knowledge of hepatitis viruses grows, it is likely that this alphabetical list will become longer. The most common hepatitis viruses are types A, B, and C. Reference to the hepatitis viruses often occurs in an abbreviated form. (For example, HAV, HBV, HCV represent hepatitis viruses A, B, and C, respectively.)

Hepatitis viruses replicate (multiply) in the liver cells. Newly-produced viruses are released into the blood stream where they can be spread to other organs or to other persons exposed to the infected blood.

  1. The liver helps purify the blood by changing harmful chemicals into harmless ones. The source of these chemicals can be external, such as medications or alcohol, or internal, such as ammonia or bilirubin. Typically, these harmful chemicals are broken down into smaller chemicals or attached to other chemicals that then are eliminated from the body in the urine or stool.
  2. The liver produces many important substances, especially proteins that are necessary for good health. For example, it produces albumin, the protein building block of the body, as well as the proteins that cause blood to clot properly.
  3. The liver stores many sugars, fats and vitamins until they are needed elsewhere in the body.
  4. The liver builds smaller chemicals into larger, more complicated chemicals that are needed elsewhere in the body. An example of this type of function is the manufacture of cholesterol.

When the liver is inflamed, it does not perform these functions well, which brings about many of the symptoms, signs, and problems associated with any type of hepatitis. Each viral type has both articles and books describing the details of infection with that specific virus. This article is designed to give the reader an overview of the predominant viruses that causes viral hepatitis and should help the reader choose the subject(s) for more in depth information.

Return to Hepatitis (Viral Hepatitis, A, B, C, D, E, G)

See what others are saying

Comment from: jdoris, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: August 12

I got it from the dentist 3yrs. ago. I have had no help and I have I found many doctors do not care. I am in bed more then out, weak, dizzy, blood pressure is up then down. I have had 2 strokes, and am very sleepy at times. After three days of sleep feel like i have been drugged.

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