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What is Hepatitis: Hepatitis Types, Symptoms and Treatment?

What is Hepatitis: Hepatitis Types, Symptoms and Treatment

Hepatitis is one of the liver diseases which can prove quite fatal if not noticed and treated well in time. A liver is a vital body and one of the most hardworking organs, that performs over 500 functions in the body.

Apart from making bile, breaking down food, aiding digestions, building proteins, processing nutrients, the liver removes harmful toxins from the body which can cause various diseases.

The liver is an extremely resilient organ and a majority of the cases of liver inflammation do not even come under the medical attention. But, in the event of serious liver inflammation, that is, Hepatitis, the functions performed by the liver can get badly affected and the hepatitis symptoms can be experienced.

If you are wondering that how do you get hepatitis, then you must know there are a plethora of reasons varying from excessive intake of alcohol to unprotected sex, from viral infections to contaminated water that can cause the Hepatitis.

There are different types of Hepatitis, and the causes for each one are different. For instance, the causes of hepatitis B will be different from that of one Hepatitis A, and that’s why the treatment of hepatitis also differs.

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What is Hepatitis?

Hepatitis is a therapeutic condition characterized by the inflammation of the liver. There are many causes of hepatitis, including viral infections, autoimmunity syndrome, over consumption of alcohol, medications, drugs and certain toxins.

Depending on the causes, the Hepatitis has been segregated into different types, and Hepatitis B and C are the most common ones. Some of these causes are avoidable, and one can stay secure by making some lifestyle changes or through immunizations.

Types of Hepatitis

There are 5 types of Hepatitis. These include:

1. Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is contagious and is caused by the infection with the HAV (Hepatitis A Virus). It is commonly transmitted through the contaminated food or water. The food or water can get contaminated by the faeces of a person who is infected with Hepatitis A.

Hepatitis A is generally acute or short term, and in most of the cases is recovered by itself and many people don’t even realize that they are sick. It does not cause any long-term damage to the liver.

2. Hepatitis B

This is one of the serious forms of Hepatitis, and it is generally spread through the infectious body fluids, including semen or vaginal secretions or blood containing the Hepatitis B virus.

The people who indulge in drugs and use common syringes for it, are at a higher risk of Hepatitis B. Also, people who indulge in unsafe or unprotected sex with an infected partner can get Hepatitis B.

Most of the times, the virus causes mild illness and then gets better with time, but, some people who are not able to clear this virus from their body, are at a risk of long-term infection. Over the time, Hepatitis B can cause significant liver damage, liver cancer, and even liver failure.

But, the good news is that one can stay protected from hepatitis B virus through vaccination or immunization.

3. Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is caused by HCV (Hepatitis C Virus), and it is also transmitted through the body fluids like semen or vaginal secretions or blood. Unprotected sexual contact, use of infected syringes or blood from an infected person can cause Hepatitis C.

It is one of the most common blood borne viral infections. Chronic Hepatitis C can result in liver cancer and liver failure. But, there are effective medical treatments available for the virus.

4. Hepatitis D

Hepatitis D, also known as “Delta Hepatitis” is caused by the HDV (Hepatitis D Virus) and any direct contact with the infected blood can cause this serious liver disease.

While it is quite a serious disease, but, it is rare as well. The HDV cannot multiply by itself in the body in the absence of HBV. So, Hepatitis D becomes serious when it is there in the body in conjunction with Hepatitis B.

5. Hepatitis E

Unlike other Hepatitis, the Hepatitis E is caused by HEV (Hepatitis E Virus) and is a waterborne disease. Typically, it is common in the areas with poor sanitation, and when people consume water contaminated by infected faecal matter.

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Causes of Hepatitis

The various causes of Hepatitis include:

1. Infections Through Contaminated Faecal Matter

In the areas where sanitation is a problem, there are high chances of Hepatitis infection. The Hepatitis is spread when the faecal matter of an infected person contaminates the food or water. The Hepatitis virus travels through the contaminated food or water, and causes infections in the people.

2. Alcohol and Toxins Consumption

Consumption of regular alcohol is one of the habits that eventually weakens the liver, can potentially cause liver damage and is one of the common reasons behind liver inflammation.

The Hepatitis caused by the alcohol consumption is known as “Alcoholic Hepatitis”. It directly affects the liver cells and over the time, causes permanent damage to the liver.

The liver disease caused by excessive alcohol consumption is known as “Cirrhosis of Liver”, and is characterized by the scarring and thickening of the liver. Apart from the alcohol overdose and overuse of medications, or exposure to poisonous substances can also cause Hepatitis.

3. Autoimmune System Response

In some of the cases, our immune system starts considering as a harmful object for the body, and in order to protect us, starts attacking the liver. As a result, the liver becomes inflamed and the functions performed by liver get affected.

It is more common in women as compared to men. This type of Hepatitis is again classified into two categories:

Type 1 Autoimmune Hepatitis – It affects both males and females of all ages.

Type 2 Autoimmune Hepatitis – It only affects young women and girls, and is quite rare.

4. Other Causes

The Hepatitis B, D, and C are generally caused when one gets in contact with the body fluids of the infected person, like having sex with an infected person, using common syringes for drugs, sharing razors, getting in contact with the blood of the infected person or sharing toothbrushes.

Major Symptoms of Hepatitis

Though, some symptoms in all types of Hepatitis are common, and these include:

  • Signs of flu-like fatigue, body ache, and fever
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pale colored stools
  • Dark yellow urine
  • Jaundice that involved yellowing of eyes and skin

Apart from these common symptoms, there are some individual symptoms of each type of Hepatitis as well.

1. Hepatitis A Symptoms

  • Extreme fatigue and body aches
  • Muscle Aches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Clay coloured stools

One can notice these symptoms generally after 15 days of the infection, and these symptoms may continue up to 50 days.

2. Hepatitis B and D Symptoms

  • Extreme weakness in body
  • A headache and joint pain
  • Dark stools (tan coloured)
  • Abdominal discomfort

These symptoms can be noticed between 1 – 4 months of the infection, and the sooner you get diagnosed, the easier it becomes to treat the infection. If Hepatitis B is not treated well in time, it can cause further health complications and even cause further infection by developing into HDV.

3. Hepatitis C Symptoms

  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Nausea
  • Itching Skin
  • Joint Pain

These symptoms can be noticed between two weeks – six months of the infection.

4. Hepatitis E Symptoms

Hepatitis E, which is a water-borne disease, can generally be identified through symptoms like acute liver failure, nausea, vomiting and liver enlargement.

Diagnosis of Hepatitis

In most of the cases, the chronic Hepatitis quietly attacks the liver, and it may not cause any symptoms. It keeps on slowly and gradually affecting the liver.

Unless the infection is diagnosed and treated, it will eventually become the cause of serious liver diseases and liver damage.  There are blood tests which can be performed to determine that whether you have viral Hepatitis infection or not.

Medical Tests Which Need To Be Performed For Diagnosing Hepatitis

1. Blood Tests

Blood tests can help in revealing that whether you are suffering from a type of Hepatitis or not. The presence of certain types of foreign bodies and toxins indicates the presence of virus causing Hepatitis.

2. Liver Function Test

This test evaluates that whether the liver is functioning normally, and clearing the proteins, enzymes and blood waste that is not required by the body or not. If the enzyme levels are found high in the test, it indicates that your liver is inflamed and is getting damaged.

3. Imaging Tests

The ultrasound of the abdominal region provides the images of the various organs located in this area. Any build-up of the fluids in the abdominal region indicates the enlargement or inflammation of the liver.

4. Liver Biopsy

It is an invasive procedure in which a tissue of your liver is taken as a sample with the help of a needle and is used the close investigation to find out that whether your liver in inflamed or not, and whether you have an infection or not. This is one of the best tests for the most accurate results.

Treatment of the Hepatitis

Hepatitis A Treatment

There is no medicine required to cure Hepatitis A, and our body clears the HAV virus on its own. The maximum time that may be taken by our body to get rid of the HAV virus is 6 months, and thus, one needs to take care of the symptoms of the virus during this period.

If you are feeling nausea and vomiting, your doctor will suggest you to make some dietary changes so that you can easily digest the food that you are eating.

What should you do when you are diagnosed with Hepatitis A?

  • Take as much rest as you can
  • Break your meal into smaller parts to digest easily
  • Switch to foods that don’t cause nausea or vomiting
  • Include more liquids in your diet like fresh sugar-free juices and milk
  • Don’t consume any medicines which aren’t recommended by doctors
  • Stay light on medicines
  • Don’t consume alcohol

Hepatitis B Treatment

The acute conditions (which don’t last for very long) can easily be treated with the help of apt antiviral medications.

What should you do when you are diagnosed with acute Hepatitis B?

  • Take as much rest as you can
  • Break your meal into smaller parts to digest easily
  • Switch to foods that don’t cause nausea or vomiting
  • Include more liquids in your diet like fresh sugar-free juices and milk
  • Don’t consume any medicines which aren’t recommended by doctors
  • Stay light on medicines

The chronic Hepatitis B can be more serious and will require regular medications and monitoring. If the medications are effective in killing the virus, then you need not to worry.

Otherwise, it may lead to liver damage, and you will require medication to control the liver damage as well. In the most serious cases, patients might have to undergo a liver transplant as well.

Also, an immunization or vaccination can prevent the occurrence of Hepatitis B, and even if it occurs, it will be very mild. So, if you haven’t taken his vaccination yet, then you must do it immediately.

Hepatitis C Treatment

Whether it is acute Hepatitis C or the chronic one, both can be cured with the help of antiviral drugs. However, the medicine completely depends on the type of Hepatitis C (acute or chronic), the genetic makeup of the Hepatitis C Virus’ cell, any other medical condition in the body and the extent to which the liver has been damaged.

The prescribed medications are strong and thus, can have some side effects. In the most serious cases, patients might have to undergo a liver transplant as well, but, a transplant is not the permanent solution, as the infection might reoccur.

Hepatitis D Treatment

Hepatitis D is not very dangerous unless it is accompanied by Hepatitis B. In serious cases of Hepatitis D, the doctors recommend “Intron A” injections for longer periods, up to 12 months.

These antiviral injections ensure that the virus does not spread and cause further damage to the liver. Even when the virus is gone, you are suggested to take vital precautions to avoid any infection in the future.

Again, in extreme cases, liver transplantation may be suggested. Also, one should completely avoid alcohol after being diagnosed by Hepatitis D, as it may damage the liver and accelerate the process of liver damage.

Hepatitis E Treatment

In cases of acute infection, you don’t require a treatment. Only you would be required to consume a lot of healthy fluids, avoid alcohol and make some dietary changes to avoid nausea or vomiting.

In serious cases, “Ribavirin” is prescribed to enhance the liver function, but, pregnant women should not take this medication.

Alcoholic Hepatitis Treatment

In this type of Hepatitis, you are required to completely avoid alcohol, and your doctor will prescribe anti-inflammatory medicines along with corticosteroids.

The damage caused by alcohol to the liver is irreparable, but, some natural liver friendly foods can help. Again, in extreme cases, liver transplantation may be suggested.

Autoimmune Hepatitis Treatment

This is one of the most serious types of Hepatitis, and doctors often recommend the medications to slow down the progression of the disease and lower down the immune system activity, so that, it does not attack the liver. The medications are required to be carefully controlled to avoid any side-effects.

But, if the medications aren’t able to control the Hepatitis and the damage becomes irreparable, then, doctors have to suggest a liver transplant.

Conclusion

Now, that you know that what causes Hepatitis, you should take complete care of your liver, and should avoid the avoidable causes to ensure that your liver functions normally and you stay healthy.

To avoid Hepatitis A and E, you must maintain complete hygiene, should not drink local unfiltered water and stay away from the shellfish and oysters which are either undercooked or raw.

To prevent Hepatitis B, C, and D, avoid unprotected sex, don’t share the drug needles, do not touch any spilled blood, don’t share razors and never use someone else’s toothbrush.

A Healthy Liver Is Vital For Disease Free Life!!!!

Shalini
With a B.Tech Degree in Computer Engineering, Shalini loves to write on the topics related to health and technology. Having 6+ years of experience in content writing and editing, She has penned down numerous articles and blogs in various niches. Apart from writing, watching movies and indulging in adventure games is what that fascinates her.
http://healthlineblog.com

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