Hepatitis: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Hepatitis: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver tissue Hepatitis may be temporary or long-term depending on whether it lasts for less than or more than six months. Acute (temporary) hepatitis can sometimes resolve on its own, progress to chronic (long-term) hepatitis, or rarely result in acute liver failure. Over time chronic form may progress to scarring of the liver, liver failure, or liver cancer.

A virus is the most common cause of hepatitis. There are five types of viral hepatitis: type A, B, C, D, and E. Hepatitis A, B, and D are preventable with immunization but a liver transplant may also be an option in certain cases.

In 2015, hepatitis A occurred in about 114 million people, chronic hepatitis B affected about 343 million people and chronic hepatitis C about 142 million people, globally. Hepatitis results in more than a million deaths per year, most of which occur indirectly from liver scarring or liver cancer.

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How Does Hepatitis Affect Your Body?

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver which can affect people in different ways, causing a loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. Hepatitis A rarely has long-term effects on the body while hepatitis A, B, or C may not have early symptoms. Chronic hepatitis C is the more severe of the hepatitis viruses and a leading cause of liver cancer. Hepatitis can affect the liver’s bile production, causing a buildup of yellow-green pigment in the bloodstream, which causes a yellowing of the skin and of eyes.

What Are The Causes of Hepatitis?

  • Hepatitis A and E are mainly spread by contaminated food and water; it is not transmitted through cough or sneeze.
  • Hepatitis B is mainly sexually transmitted, but may also be passed from mother to baby during pregnancy or childbirth; not transmitted through cough or sneeze.
  • Both hepatitis B and C are spread through infected blood such as during needle sharing by intravenous drug users.
  • Hepatitis D can only infect people already infected with hepatitis B virus.
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What Are The Risk Factors of Hepatitis?

Risk factors of Hepatitis A:

  • If travelling or working in areas of the world where hepatitis A is common.
  • If attending or working in a child care center.
  • If living with another person who has hepatitis A.
  • If having sexual contact with someone who has hepatitis A.
  • If you are HIV positive.
  • If you have a clotting-factor disorder like haemophilia.
  • If using illegal drugs.

Risk factors of Hepatitis B:

  • Unprotected sex with multiple sex partners or with someone who’s infected with hepatitis B virus.
  • Shared needles during IV drug use.
  • Living with someone who has a chronic HBV infection.
  • An infant born to a Hepatitis B infected mother.
  • Work where exposure to human blood is common.

Risk factors of Hepatitis C:

  • Health care worker exposed to infected blood, which may happen if an infected needle pierces the risk.
  • HIV patients are at risk of Hepatitis C.
  • Piercing or tattoo using unsterile equipment.
  • Hemodialysis treatments for a long period of time
  • A child born to a woman with a hepatitis C infection has a higher chance of getting hepatitis C.

 What Are The Symptoms of Hepatitis?

  • Acute hepatitis – The initial preceding symptoms involves non-specific and flu-like symptoms like fatigue, nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, joint pain, and headaches. Fever is most common in cases of hepatitis A and E. Late in this phase, dark urine and clay-colored stools can be observed. Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes after about 1–2 weeks of initial stage and can last for up to 4 weeks.
  • Drugs-induced hepatitis can manifest with systemic signs of an allergic reaction including rash, fever, and inflammation of membranes lining certain organs, elevated eosinophils and suppression of bone marrow activity.
  • Fulminant hepatitis is a rare and life-threatening complication of acute hepatitis that can occur in cases of hepatitis B, D, and E, in addition to drug-induced and autoimmune hepatitis. Signs of acute hepatitis with signs of coagulopathy (abnormal coagulation studies with easy bruising and bleeding) and encephalopathy (confusion, disorientation, and sleepiness) can be observed.
  • Chronic hepatitis is often asymptomatic but as the inflammation progresses, patients can develop constitutional symptoms similar to acute hepatitis, including fatigue, nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, and joint pain. Jaundice can occur as well which is a sign of advanced disease. Acne, hirsutism (abnormal hair growth), and amenorrhea (lack of menstrual period) in women are all signs of chronic hepatitis.
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 How is Hepatitis Diagnosed?

  • Blood tests – Blood test to look for signs of the hepatitis A virus in the body. It can also detect signs of the hepatitis B virus in the body and can also determine if you’re immune to the condition.
  • Liver biopsy – To check for liver damage.
  • Screening healthy people for hepatitis B – This is done because the virus can damage the liver before causing signs and symptoms.
  • Other blood tests – If an initial blood test shows hepatitis C, additional blood tests will measure the quantity of the hepatitis C virus in the blood and also identify the genotype of the virus.
  • Magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) – This is done to look through stiff liver tissue that may indicate the presence of fibrosis, or scarring of the liver, as a result of chronic hepatitis C.
  • Transient elastography – It is a type of ultrasound that transmits vibrations into the liver and measures the speed of their dispersal through liver tissue to estimate its stiffness.
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 How to Prevent And Control Hepatitis?

  • Vaccination – The hepatitis A vaccine can prevent infection with the virus given in two shots. The hepatitis B vaccine is given as three or four injections over six months.
  • Practice safer sex – Don’t get involved in unprotected sex with multiple partners or with any partner whose health status is uncertain; sexual transmission between monogamous couples may occur, but the risk is low.

Treatment of Hepatitis- Allopathic Treatment

For Hepatitis A:

  • No specific treatment exists for hepatitis A except proper rest and managing nausea.

For Hepatitis B and C:

  • An injection of immunoglobulin given within 12 hours of exposure to the virus may help protect from getting sick with hepatitis B.
  • For treating chronic Hepatitis B and C, antiviral medications are given which includes entecavir (Baraclude), tenofovir (Viread), lamivudine (Epivir), adefovir (Hepsera) and telbivudine (Tyzeka). These medications can help fight the virus and slow its ability to damage your liver.
  • Interferon injections is a man-made version of a substance produced by the body to fight infection, used mainly for young people with hepatitis B and C to avoid long-term treatment or women who want to get pregnant within a few years, after completing a finite course of therapy.
  • Liver transplant – If the liver has severely damaged, a liver transplant may be an option where the damaged liver is replaced with a healthy liver. In some cases, a liver transplant alone doesn’t cure hepatitis C thus, requiring treatment with antiviral medication to prevent damage to the transplanted liver.
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Treatment of Hepatitis- Homeopathic Treatment

  • Andrographis Paniculata – This is used for treating Hepatitis B and C and is useful in treating resistant jaundice.
  • Arsenic Album – This is prescribed when hepatitis results from bad food or food poisoning.
  • Aurum Metallicum – This is effective for jaundice during pregnancy.
  • Carduus Marianus – This is used for liver cirrhosis with general edema and when there is engorged and laterally swollen liver, which gets worse from pressure.
  • Chelidonium – This is used in treating an enlarged liver with tenderness and throbbing pain in the region of the liver.
  • Lachesis – This is used for liver complaints largely among alcoholics.
  • Nux Vomica – This is used to treat hepatitis associated with constipation.
  • Phosphorus – This is prescribed for acute hepatitis where fatty degeneration of liver, cirrhosis, and jaundice associated with the pancreatic disease.
  • Podophyllum – This is effective in treating chronic relapsing hepatitis.

Hepatitis – Lifestyle Tips

  • Avoid sexual activity if you have hepatitis A to prevent spreading the infection to your partner.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet and changing diapers for at least 20 seconds and rinse well.
  • Don’t prepare food for others while you’re actively infected as it can easily pass the infection to others.
  • If you’re sexually active, tell your partner you have hepatitis B and use a new latex condom every time you have sex, but remember that condoms reduce but don’t eliminate the risk.
  • Don’t share your personal care items like razor blades or toothbrushes, which may carry traces of infected blood.
  • Stop drinking alcohol as alcohol speeds the progression of liver disease in people with Hepatitis C.
  • Hepatitis C patients should avoid medications that may cause liver damage.
  • Do not donate blood, body organs or semen, and do not share your personal belongings. Before you have sex, tell your partner about the infection and always use condoms during intercourse.

What Are The Recommended Exercises For a Person With Hepatitis?

Low-impact exercises such as walking for 15-30 minutes every day or swimming for 30 minutes, 3 to 5 times a day.

Hepatitis & Pregnancy – Things to Know

  • Hepatitis A infection during pregnancy is rare. As a result, the incidence during pregnancy is difficult to make sure of.
  • Vertical transmission of Hepatitis A virus from pregnant mother to fetus has not been reported.
  • Acute Hepatitis B infection during pregnancy is usually benign and is not associated with an increased risk of death.
  • When acute Hepatitis B infection occurs early in pregnancy, the rate of perinatal transmission is about 10%, increasing to 60% if it occurs near delivery. Chronic HBV infection may affect if the woman has cirrhosis or advanced liver disease; however, pregnancy is very rare in women with HBV cirrhosis due to anovulation.
  • One in twenty infants born to mothers with Hepatitis C gets the virus, in the womb, during delivery, or after the baby is born. The disease usually does not affect the baby before birth.

Common Complications Related to Hepatitis

  • In rare, severe cases, hepatitis A can cause a sudden loss of liver function, especially in older adults or people with chronic liver diseases.
  • Hepatitis can lead to complications like scarring of the liver (cirrhosis), liver cancer, kidney disease or inflammation of blood vessels.
  • Hepatitis C can cause complications, such as cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer.

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