Hepatitis Facts: Symptoms, causes and treatment
Human liver is a vital organ in the body and it is necessary for survival. Liver is actually a gland and is considered to be the biggest gland (organ) in the body. Liver has multiple functions to perform; the most important of which is
- detoxification (helping to excrete poison),
- production of certain bio-chemicals necessary for digestion and
- regulating energy in the body.
So when the liver is affected or inflamed, its ability to perform these vital functions gets impacted. Many people are a little confused when it comes to describing what exactly is hepatitis? So let’s attempt to clear that up here by discussing some basic facts about hepatitis, it causes and treatments. Hepatitis refers to anything that inflames the liver. That includes irritation and enlarging of cells of the liver caused by different reasons. Hepatitis can vary and can be a severe inflammation of the liver that lasts about half a year, or chronic inflammation of the liver that lasts even longer and the causes differ. It can be brought on by a group of viruses called the hepatitis viruses. There are 5 types of Hepatitis virus namely A, B, C, D, and E. However, other viruses can also cause it, such as those that cause mononucleosis or chickenpox. Hepatitis is also the term used to describe inflammation of the liver caused by drugs and alcoholism. This condition can develop from other causes too, such as fat buildup in the liver, trauma, or an autoimmune disorder in which the body creates antibodies that attack the liver (autoimmune hepatitis).
The five hepatitis viruses can be conveyed in different ways, but they all do the same thing: They infect the liver and cause it to become inflamed. Often, most patients suffering from this condition recover and then they become immune to the disease for a lifetime. But others succumb, especially during the heightened phase. Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B can become chronic hepatitis, in which the liver stays inflamed for more than six months. This can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer, and sometimes death.
Hepatitis A is caused by eating food or drinking water contaminated with feces which are transporting the virus. It is the least dangerous form of hepatitis because it tends to get better on its own. For instances where it doesn’t, further treatment such as prescribed drugs will be necessary. In some uncommon cases the disease has progressed so much that the individual requires hospitalization. However, these cases are not the norm, and most people recover quite nicely from this disease without any medical intervention being necessary. Therefore, in general there isn’t cause for concern with this virus.
Here are some hepatitis symptoms:
- Sudden loss of appetite
- Feeling total fatigue
- Experiencing mild fever
- Painful joints and muscles
- Feeling nausea and in some cases vomiting
- Abdominal pain
Other rare symptoms may include:
- Dark urine
- stools that are light-colored
- too much itching
- difficulty in thinking straight leading to a coma or a stupor
- Internal bleeding
Since hepatitis comes in various types, the treatments vary.
This type of hepatitis goes away on its own, but the patient requires bed rest. It makes you uncomfortable with nausea and diarrhea. Your doctor will advise you on the best foods to eat. It can also be prevented with hepatitis vaccine. This vaccination is available for kids and adults.
Hepatitis B is caused by having sex with an infected person or sharing needles or blood of infected persons. This type of hepatitis is acute and must be treated properly. It is an expensive disorder and the treatment can go on for months or years. The patient must be evaluated and observed by a doctor to ensure that the virus does not progress. All medical attendants must be vaccinated against this disease. Hepatitis B can cause liver damage if not treated on time.
Hepatitis C is caused by sharing infected needles and infected blood. Doctors use antiviral medications to treat this illness. It can be acute or chronic and it’s dangerous because it can cause scarring on the liver which may require a transplant.
Hepatitis D is contracted through sharing of infected needles and body fluids of people suffering from Hepatitis B or D. The person must already have Hepatitis B to get Hepatitis D. Being a rare infection, there is currently no vaccine for it. Hepatitis D is treated using drugs containing alpha interferon. This form of Hepatitis reoccurs in most patients, actually, 60 to 97% of them.
Hepatitis E virus is mainly transmitted through consuming contaminated water that contains traces of faecal matter. Hepatitis E is usually acute and requires assistance from a doctor, though there is no specific medication for it. It resolves without treatment, but the patient must avoid alcohol, take fluids and have plenty of rest. There is also a vaccine developed in china to treat this form of Hepatitis (that is widely prevalent in East Asia), but this vaccine is not currently available globally. Have you tested for immunity against Hepatitis? You can get this done through a blood test to check if you have immunity against Hepatitis. Have you taken vaccine shots for hepatitis?