A Simple Guide to Understanding Hepatitis

Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver tissue that can lead to liver damage in chronic cases. The most popular kinds of hepatitis are hepatitis A, B, and C. According to the CDC, millions of people around the earth are effects by hepatitis.

What are the early symptoms of hepatitis?

Hepatitis is usually asymptomatic at first, but over time as the liver cells get damaged, patients begin to experience signs such as :

  • Jaundice (Yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Abdominal pain is mostly felt in the upper right side below the ribs
  • Sudden nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low-grade fever
  • Dark urine
  • Clay-colored bowel movements.
  • Diarrhea

When hepatitis symptoms occur, how long do they last? 

According to the duration:

  • Acute hepatitis: It is hepatitis that resolves within six months and barely shows any symptoms. Hepatitis virus A and E are usually acute in nature; they rarely progress to Chronic or cause liver failure.
  • Chronic hepatitis: It is hepatitis that lasts longer than six months and usually leads to liver cirrhosis, liver failure, or liver cancer.

What are the different types of hepatitis?

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a viral disease caused by hepatovirus A, and it is gotten through contaminated food and water. It takes about 2-6weeks for symptoms to develop after exposure to the virus, and Symptoms generally lasts for about eight weeks. Hepatitis A rarely has any manifestation, but when it does, it is usually diarrhea, jaundice, and abdominal pain.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is usually chronic hepatitis caused by the hepatitis B virus. There is acute hepatitis B, but 90% of cases progress to chronic, and since it rarely has any symptoms in the acute phase, patients only begin to notice symptoms when the disease becomes chronic. It takes about 30 – 180 days for symptoms to manifest from the day of infection.

Hepatitis B is transmitted by exposure to:

  • Infectious blood from others by sharing sharp objects, during delivery, or touching other people’s blood.
  • It is transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy.
  • It infected bodily fluid.

Risk factors of Hepatitis B include:

  • Sexual intercourse
  • Intravenous drug use
  • Working in the health sector (dealing with blood and other bodily fluid)
  • Blood transfusion
  • Dialysis
  • Living with an infected person
  • Tattooing
  • Acupuncture

Hepatitis C 

Hepatitis C is a viral illness caused by the hepatitis C virus. It usually has no symptoms, even in the chronic phase. It is transmitted through blood to blood transfusions. Those at risk are:

  • Intravenous drug abusers
  • Sharing sharp objects
  • Heath-care workers
  • Poorly sterilized equipments
  • Blood transfusion

Hepatitis D

The hepatitis delta virus causes hepatitis D, and it usually occurs with viral hepatitis B, therefore only those with hepatitis B are at risk for hepatitis D.

Hepatitis E

Hepatitis E is transmitted mainly by contaminated food and water. Hepatitis E can prompt your liver to swell up, although, in most circumstances, it goes away on its own in approximately 4-6 weeks.

Alcoholic Hepatitis

Alcoholic Hepatitis is caused by heavy alcohol use and usually leads to liver cirrhosis. Quit drinking to help to prevent additional harm to your liver.

Autoimmune Hepatitis

Autoimmune Hepatitis is the autoimmune destruction of the hepatocytes. The body destroys the hepatic cells and eventually causes malfunction of the liver.

Non- alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)

Non- alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is the excessive fat buildup in the liver that leads to inflammation of the liver. NASH is a serious disease of the liver that progresses to liver cirrhosis, liver cancer, liver failure, and heart disease.

Hepatitis caused by medications (drug-induced hepatitis) 

A long term intake of aspirin, ibuprofen, paracetamol, anabolic steroids, antibiotics, oral contraceptives, stations, and anti-epileptic medications can cause inflammation of the liver.

Diagnosis of hepatitis

Hepatitis is diagnosed with history, blood test, presence of viral antibodies, ultrasound, CT scan, and liver biopsy.

Treatment of hepatitis 

  • Hepatitis B and C are treated with antiviral medicines
  • Hepatitis A and E clear up on it own most of the time and only require rehydration, rest, and supportive care.
  • Post-exposure prophylaxis of hepatitis B

Other hepatitis treatments are managed with:

  • Weight loss
  • Healthy eating habits
  • Physical activity
  • Immunosuppressive medications such as Corticosteroids
  • Liver transplant
  • Quit alcohol

Final word

Hepatitis B cannot be transmitted by kissing, holding hands, sharing utensils, hugging, coughing, sneezing, or breastfeeding. Hepatitis A, B, and D can be prevented with immunization. Hepatitis C is curable with antiviral medication taken by mouth for like 8 weeks.