Hepatitis refers to an inflammatory condition of the liver. This is usually caused by a viral infection, but there are other possible causes of hepatitis. These include autoimmune hepatitis and hepatitis that occurs as a secondary result of taking medications, medications, toxins, and alcohol. Autoimmune hepatitis is a disease that occurs when your body produces antibodies against liver tissue.
Your liver is located in the upper right side of your abdomen. It performs many important functions that affect metabolism throughout the body, including:
- production of bile, which is necessary for digestion
- filtering toxins from your body
- excretion of bilirubin (a product of red blood cell breakdown), cholesterol, hormones, and medications
- breaking down carbohydrates, fats and proteins
- activation of enzymes, which are specialized proteins necessary for the body's functions
- storage of glycogen (a form of sugar), minerals and vitamins (A, D, E and K)
- synthesis of blood proteins such as albumin
- synthesis of clotting factors
According toA reliable source for the Centers for disease control and prevention (CDC), Approximately 4.4 million Americans are currently living with chronic hepatitis B and C. Many other people don't even know they have hepatitis.
Treatment options depend on the type of hepatitis. You can prevent some forms of hepatitis with vaccinations and precautionary measures.
Viral liver infections that are classified as hepatitis include hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. Different viruses are responsible for each type of viral hepatitis.
Hepatitis A is always an acute, short-term disease, while hepatitis B, C and D are most likely to become chronic and chronic. Hepatitis E is usually acute, but can be especially dangerous for pregnant women.
Hepatitis A is caused by infection with the hepatitis a virus (HAV). This type of hepatitis is most often transmitted by eating food or drinking water contaminated with faeces from a person infected with hepatitis A.
Hepatitis B Infection
Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with infectious body fluids, such as blood, vaginal secretions, or semen containing the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Injecting drugs, having sex with an infected partner, or sharing a razor with an infected person increases the risk of Contracting hepatitis B.
The CDC Trusted Source estimates that 1.2 million people in the United States and 350 million people worldwide live with this chronic disease.
Hepatitis C comes from the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Hepatitis C is transmitted through direct contact with infected body fluids, usually through injecting drug use and sexual contact. HCV is one of the most common blood-borne viral infections in the United States.Approximately 2.7 to 3.9 million trusted source Americans are currently living with a chronic form of this infection.
Hepatitis D Infection
Also called Delta hepatitis, hepatitis D is a serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis D virus (HDV). HDV is infected through direct contact with infected blood. Hepatitis D is a rare form of hepatitis that occurs only in combination with a hepatitis b infection. The hepatitis D virus cannot reproduce without the presence of hepatitis B. This is very rare in the United States.
Hepatitis E is a water-borne disease caused by the hepatitis E virus (HEV). Hepatitis E is mainly found in areas with poor sanitation and is usually the result of ingesting feces that contaminate the water supply. This disease is rare in the United States. However, cases of hepatitis E have been reported in the middle East, Asia, Central America and Africa, according to the CDC Trusted Source,
Alcohol and other toxins
Excessive alcohol consumption can cause liver damage and inflammation. This is sometimes called alcoholic hepatitis . Alcohol directly damages your liver cells. Over time, this can lead to irreversible damage and lead to liver failure and cirrhosis , thickening and scarring of the liver.
Other toxic causes of hepatitis include excessive use or overdose of medications and exposure to poisons.
Autoimmune reaction of the system
In some cases, the immune system mistakes the liver for a harmful object and begins to attack it. This causes ongoing inflammation that can range from mild to severe, often disrupting liver function. This is three times more common in women than in men.
If you have chronic infectious forms of hepatitis, such as hepatitis B and C, you may not have symptoms at the beginning. Symptoms may not appear until the damage affects liver function.
Signs and symptoms of acute hepatitis appear quickly. They include:
- flu symptoms
- dark urine
- pale chair
- abdominal pain
- loss of appetite
- unexplained weight loss
- yellow skin and eyes that may be signs of jaundice
Chronic hepatitis develops slowly, so these signs and symptoms may be too subtle to be noticed.
History and physical exam
To diagnose hepatitis, your doctor will first take your medical history to determine any risk factors you may have for infectious or non-infectious hepatitis.
During a medical exam, your doctor may gently press on your stomach to see if there is pain or tenderness. Your doctor may also feel if your liver is enlarged. If your skin or eyes are yellow, your doctor will notice it during the examination.
Liver function tests
Liver function tests use blood samples to determine how effectively your liver is working. Incorrect results of these tests can be the first sign that there is a problem, especially if you do not have any signs of a physical examination of liver disease. High levels of liver enzymes can indicate that your liver is strained, damaged, or not functioning properly.
Other blood tests
If you have impaired liver function, your doctor will most likely order another blood test to identify the source of the problem. These tests can check for viruses that cause hepatitis. They can also be used to test for antibodies that are common in conditions such as autoimmune hepatitis.
An abdominal ultrasound uses ultrasound waves to create images of organs in the abdominal cavity. This test allows the doctor to examine the liver and nearby organs. This can reveal:
- fluid in your stomach
- liver damage or enlargement
- liver tumor
- abnormalities of your gallbladder
Sometimes the pancreas also appears in ultrasound images. This can be a useful test to determine the cause of impaired liver function.
A liver biopsy is an invasive procedure that involves your doctor taking a tissue sample from the liver. This can be done through the skin with a needle and does not require surgery. Typically, ultrasound is used to guide your doctor when taking a biopsy sample.
This test allows your doctor to determine how an infection or inflammation has affected your liver. It can also be used to analyze any areas of your liver that appear abnormal.
Treatment options are determined by the type of hepatitis and acute or chronic infection.
Hepatitis A usually does not require treatment because it is a short-term disease. Bed rest may be recommended if symptoms cause severe discomfort. If you experience vomiting or diarrhea, follow your doctor's instructions for hydration and nutrition.
A hepatitis a vaccine is available to prevent this infection. Most children start vaccination at the age of 12 to 18 months. This is a series of two vaccines. Hepatitis A vaccination is also available for adults and can be combined with a hepatitis B vaccine.
Hepatitis B Infection
Acute hepatitis B does not require special treatment.
Chronic hepatitis B is treated with antiviral drugs. This form of treatment can be expensive because it must continue for several months or years. Treatment for chronic hepatitis B also requires regular medical examinations and monitoring to determine whether the virus responds to treatment.
Hepatitis B can be prevented by vaccination. CDC Trusted Source recommends hepatitis b vaccination for all newborns. A series of three vaccines is usually completed during the first six months of childhood. The vaccine is also recommended for all medical and healthcare personnel.
Antiviral medications are used to treat both acute and chronic forms of hepatitis C. People who develop chronic hepatitis C are usually treated with a combination of antiviral medications. They may also need further testing to determine the best form of treatment.
People who develop cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) or liver disease as a result of chronic hepatitis C can be candidates for liver transplantation .
Currently, there is no vaccination against hepatitis C.
Hepatitis D Infection
Currently, there are no antiviral drugs to treat hepatitis D. According to a 2013 study by Trusted Source, a drug called alpha-interferon can be used to treat hepatitis D, but it shows improvement in only 25-30 percent of people.
Hepatitis D can be prevented by getting a hepatitis B vaccination, since hepatitis B infection is necessary for the development of hepatitis D.
Currently, there is no specific medical therapy available to treat hepatitis E. Since the infection is often acute, it usually goes away on its own. People with this type of infection are often advised to rest, drink plenty of fluids, get enough nutrients, and avoid alcohol consumption. However, pregnant women who develop this infection require careful monitoring and care.
Corticosteroids, such as prednisone or budesonide, are extremely important for the early treatment of autoimmune hepatitis. They are effective in about 80 percent of people with this disease.
Azathioprin (Imuran), a drug that suppresses the immune system, is often included in treatment. It can be used with or without steroids.
Other immune-suppressing drugs, such as mycophenolate (CellCept), tacrolimus (Prograf), and cyclosporine (Neoral), can also be used as an alternative to azathioprine for treatment.
Following hygiene rules is one of the key ways to avoid Contracting hepatitis A and E. If you are traveling to a developing country, you should avoid:
- local water
- raw or undercooked clams and oysters
- raw fruits and vegetables
Hepatitis B, C and D, contracted through contaminated blood, can be prevented by:
- don't share needles with drugs
- don't share razors
- not using someone else's toothbrush
- without touching the spilled blood
Hepatitis B and C can also be infected by sexual contact and intimate sexual contact. Practicing safe sex using condoms and dental dams can help reduce the risk of infection. You can find many options available for online purchase .
The use of vaccines is an important key to preventing hepatitis. There are vaccinations to prevent the development of hepatitis A and B. Currently, specialists are developing hepatitis C vaccines. In China, there is a vaccination against hepatitis E, but in the United States it is not.
Chronic hepatitis B or C can often lead to more serious health problems. Because the virus affects the liver, people with chronic hepatitis B or C are at risk:
- chronic liver disease
- liver cancer
When your liver stops functioning normally, liver failure can occur. Complications of liver failure include:
- coagulation disorders
- accumulation of fluid in the abdomen, known as ascites
- high blood pressure in the portal veins that enter your liver, known as portal hypertension
- renal failure
- hepatic encephalopathy, which can include fatigue, memory loss, and decreased mental abilities due to the accumulation of toxins such as ammonia that affect brain function
- hepatocellular carcinoma, which is a form of liver cancer
People with chronic hepatitis B and C are advised to avoid drinking alcohol, as it can accelerate liver disease and liver failure. Some supplements and medications can also affect liver function. If you have chronic hepatitis B or C, consult your doctor before taking any new medications.