What is hepatitis?
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. It can occur due to a variety of factors, but the most common cause is a virus infection. Hepatitis can be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term) and can have fatal complications.
The liver is in the right upper part of the abdomen and serves several important functions:
What causes hepatitis in general?
- Virus and other infections
- Autoimmune response (the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues)
- Ischemia (decreased oxygenation of the liver)
- Metabolic disorders
What are the types of viral hepatitis?
The types of viral hepatitis are:
- Hepatitis A
- An acute illness caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV).
- Transmitted through food and water contaminated by feces of infected people.
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- Hepatitis D
- Caused by the hepatitis D virus (HDV).
- Transmitted through contact with infected blood.
- It is rare, but very serious.
- It only occurs in the presence of hepatitis B. HDV cannot multiply in the absence of HBV.
- Hepatitis E
- An acute disease caused by the hepatitis E virus (HEV).
- Like HAV, it is transmitted through food and water contaminated by the feces of infected people.
What are the signs and symptoms of viral hepatitis?
Infectious viral hepatitis involves four phases:
- Phase 1:
- Patients may be asymptomatic
- Liver function tests may be abnormal
- Phase 2:
- Phase 3:
- Phase 4 (convalescent stage):
How is viral hepatitis diagnosed?
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How is viral hepatitis treated?
The treatment of viral hepatitis depends on its cause. All patients with hepatitis should stop alcohol, recreational drug use, and liver toxic medication.
- Hepatitis A
- It is a short-term illness.
- Hospitalization is required.
- Treatment is recommended to reduce symptoms and discomfort.
- Adequate hydration.
- There is no anti-viral therapy available.
- Hepatitis B
- Supportive treatment to reduce symptoms and discomfort.
- Anti-viral medication can be used.
- Hepatitis C
- Anti-viral medication can be used along with supportive treatment.
- Hepatitis D
- A drug called interferon may help in some situations.
- Hepatitis E
- Usually resolves on its own.
- Supportive treatment to reduce discomfort.
- Adequate rest, fluid and nutrition.
- No anti-viral medication is available.
- Autoimmune hepatitis
- Medication to suppress or modulate the immune system, such as steroids.
What are the complications of viral hepatitis?
Hepatitis B, C, D can progress to chronic (long-term) hepatitis disease. Early diagnosis, treatment and lifestyle modification can slow or inhibit the progression of the disease and reduce complications. Complications include:
Can viral hepatitis be cured?
Acute hepatitis can be cured. Chronic hepatitis can be treated to prevent progression and complications. Some types of hepatitis can be prevented.
How can viral hepatitis be prevented?
- A vaccine is available for hepatitis B. Because hepatitis E only occurs in the presence of hepatitis B, the vaccine prevents hepatitis E as well.
- Good personal hygiene.
- Avoid sharing needles, razors, toothbrush, and other personal items.
- Avoid touching blood.
- Avoid unprotected sexual intercourse.
- Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol.
- Avoid using recreational drugs.
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