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All about Hepatitis

What is Hepatitis?

Hepatitis is a liver-related disease that causes inflammation in the liver. It occurs because of viral infection, alcohol and drug abuse, various health complications, and even certain medications. The treatment of hepatitis is based on the type of hepatitis and an underlying complication if any. It is basically an inflammatory disorder of the liver and it happens mostly because of some viral infection, but there are other possible causes of hepatitis such as

autoimmune hepatitis and hepatitis that occur as a secondary result of certain medications, drugs, alcohol, and harmful toxins. Autoimmune hepatitis occurs when your body produces antibodies to fight your liver tissue.

What are the Types of Hepatitis?

The types of Hepatitis include:

Hepatitis A: An infection with the hepatitis A virus (HAV) causes hepatitis A. It’s an acute, but short-term disease.

Hepatitis B: The Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is the reason behind hepatitis B. It’s a chronic condition and it has been estimated that nearly 258  million people across the globe are suffering from it. There is no cure for it but the symptoms can be managed.

Hepatitis C: Hepatitis C is caused by hepatitis C virus (HCV). HCV is among the most common bloodborne viral infections and it has long-term complications.

Hepatitis D: This is a rare type of hepatitis that only happens in concurrence with hepatitis B infection. The hepatitis D virus (HDV) leads to liver inflammation like other strains, but a patient suffering from Hepatitis D cannot contract HDV without already having a hepatitis B infection.

Hepatitis  E: Hepatitis E is an uncommon waterborne disease that occurs with exposure to the hepatitis E virus (HEV). Hepatitis E is mostly found in places with poor sanitation which contaminates the water supply. Hepatitis E is normally acute but is dangerous to women who are pregnant

What are the Symptoms of Hepatitis?

The symptoms of Hepatitis include:

  • Fatigue
  • Symptoms of flu
  • Dark coloured urine
  • Pale stool
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort, mostly in the upper right side underneath your lower ribs, causing  liver or discomfort, particularly on the upper right side beneath your lower ribs, over your liver
  • Appetite loss
  • Weight loss
  • Yellow skin and eyes, which might indicate jaundice
  • Joint pain
  • itching

What causes Hepatitis?

The causes of hepatitis vary according to its type such as

  • Hepatitis A: It occurs when a virus infects liver cells which results in inflammation. The inflammation affects the function of and causes symptoms of hepatitis A.
  • The virus is usually spread through infected stool, and in just tiny amounts, when enters the mouth of a person, hepatitis A can develop.
  • Hepatitis B: It occurs because of unprotected sex, drug abuse where needles are shared, and blood transfusion. A newborn can ge it from his/her mother if she has hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C: Any contact with HCV in body fluids, like s blood, vaginal secretions, or semen can cause
  • Hepatitis D: When someone gets in contact with blood containing HDV, then our chances of getting Hepatitis D rises
  • Hepatitis E: Getting in contact with  HEV in food or water causes this type of hepatitis

What are the  Risk Factors of Hepatitis?

  •  Visit or live in a place where hepatitis A is common
  •  Live with another person who already has hepatitis
  • When a man  has unprotected sexual contact with other men
  • Getting sexual contact with someone who has hepatitis, especially A
  • HIV-positive People may have a high chance of developing this condition
  • People who are homeless are prone to it
  • Using recreational drugs, not necessarily injected
  • Unsafe sex with many sex partners or with someone who’s infected chronic HBV infection
  • Infants born to a hepatitis-infected mother
  • Blood transfusion

What are the Complications of Hepatitis?

The general complications of hepatitis include:

  • Damage in liver function, mostly in people with chronic liver diseases or old people
  • Scarring of the liver (cirrhosis)
  • Liver cancer.
  • Liver failure sexually transmitted disease due to unprotected sex
  • HIV or AIDS when needles are shared while using drugs
  • Bleeding complications
  • Hypertension
  • Memory Loss
  • Reduced  mental abilities

How Hepatitis is Diagnosed?

First, your doctor will check your medical history to determine if you have hepatitis or some other medical condition.

Tests to diagnose hepatitis include:

Liver function tests: A liver function test is done to examine how your liver is functioning and if it’s functioning abnormally then it may be a sign of hepatitis, particularly if you don’t display any signs during a physical exam of any liver disease. High liver enzyme levels might be an indication that your liver is stressed, damaged, or not properly functioning

Blood Tests: Blood tests are helpful to detect the source of the problem. It checks hepatitis viruses or antibodies to detect if you have these germs in your body and if antibodies are combating them. Blood tests are useful for determining signs and symptoms of autoimmune hepatitis.

Liver biopsy: When diagnosing hepatitis, doctors will also assess your liver to diagnose potential harm in the liver.  A liver biopsy is a process where a sample of tissue from your liver will be taken using a needle for testing and no surgery is needed. A medical professional may take this sample through your skin with a needle, meaning there is no need for surgery. This test helps to examine and determine how much infection or inflammation affected your liver.

Ultrasound: Ultrasound waves are used in this test to produce an image of the organs inside your abdomen. This test allows your doctor to take a close look at your liver and other organs. It helps to find fluid in your abdomen, damaged or enlargement liver, tumors, and abnormalities of your gallbladder.

What are the Treatment Options Available for Hepatitis?

Hepatitis A vaccine is available that helps to stop the contraction of HAV. The hepatitis A vaccine contains a series of two doses and most children start vaccination at age 12 to 24 months. This vaccine is available for adults and also includes the hepatitis B vaccine.

Hepatitis B vaccinations are recommended for all newborns. Doctors usually provide a series of three vaccines in the first 6 months after a child is born.

Vaccines are recommended for all healthcare and medical personnel because they are in constant touch with the patients. Vaccination against hepatitis B can also avert hepatitis D.

There are currently no vaccines for hepatitis C or E available.

The treatment of hepatitis varies according to the type. Also, there are vaccines available to protect against many hepatitis viruses. Minimising your risk of exposure to substances containing these viruses can also be an important preventive measure. Here we have described treatment options for each type of hepatitis:

Hepatitis A: Hepatitis A is not a long time disease and it fades away by itself in some days and normally treatment is not required. But the symptoms create discomfort, and enough bed rest is required along with lots of fluid. In some cases you may have vomiting or diarrhoea, and a dietary program will be provided by your doctor to maintain your hydration and nutrition.

Hepatitis B: At present there is no particular treatment available for acute hepatitis B. But, in the case of chronic hepatitis B, you will be given antiviral medications which you might have to continue for months and even years.

Treatment for chronic hepatitis B also needs regular medical evaluations and monitoring to check whether the virus is responding to treatment.

Hepatitis C: Antiviral medications are given to treat both acute and chronic forms of hepatitis C.

Usually, people who develop chronic hepatitis C use a fusion of a few antiviral drug therapies. They might also require further testing to check the best type of treatment to cure hepatitis C. A liver transplant may be needed for people who develop cirrhosis or liver disease because of chronic hepatitis C

Hepatitis D: The WHOTrusted Source lists pegylated interferon alpha as a treatment for hepatitis D. However, this medication can have severe side effects. As a result, it’s not recommended for people with cirrhosis liver damage, those with psychiatric conditions, and people with autoimmune diseases.

Hepatitis E: At present, no particular medical therapies are available to cure hepatitis E and because it’s often an acute infection, it typically gets well on its own.

Doctors generally advise people with this type of hepatitis to get adequate rest, drink plenty of fluids, eat nutrients, and avoid alcohol. However, pregnant women who get this disease needs close monitoring and care.

Living with Hepatitis

Hepatitis is of various types; while some are not so serious, others are severe to the level of being fatal. People suffering from hepatitis need enough bed rest and it may affect their studies or work but since there is a saying, health is wealth, you should take utmost care of yourself and follow the instructions of your doctor. Practise Safe sex to prevent hepatitis B and C and don’t share needles if you are into drug abuse. People who have chronic hepatitis B and C have to avoid alcohol as it can fasten liver disease and failure. Some particular supplements and medications can also affect the function of the liver. If you have chronic hepatitis B or C, consult with your doctor before taking any medicine

Whom to Consult?

If you know or notice that you are exposed to hepatitis, then immediately contact your doctor. Preventive treatment may decrease your risk of infection if you receive the treatment within 24 hours of getting infected with the virus. Your doctor will check your symptoms, take some tests and diagnose the type of hepatitis you have and accordingly treatment will start.

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