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Table Of Contents

What is Hepatitis?

Hepatitis is a condition that results in inflammation of the liver. It disrupts various metabolic processes, including bile formation, excretion, lipid and protein metabolism, and protein synthesis. It can occur at any age and sometimes progress without any symptoms.

What Causes Hepatitis?

Hepatitis affects the liver’s ability to function and is caused by a highly contagious virus called hepatitis virus. The most common types of hepatitis and their most common modes of transmission are:

  • Hepatitis A: It is caused by the Hepatitis A virus and is the most common type of virus. It is transmitted through the faecal-oral route.
  • Hepatitis B: It is caused by the Hepatitis B virus, transmitted through body fluids.
  • Hepatitis C: It is caused by the Hepatitis C virus, transmitted through blood- blood contact.
  • Alcoholic hepatitis: Hepatitis caused due to consuming alcohol in huge quantities.
  • Eating food made by an infected person without washing hands after using the toilet
  • Consuming sewage polluted water
  • Being near a symptomless infected person
  • Having intercourse with an infected person

What are the Symptoms of Hepatitis?

The virus has an incubation period of a few weeks; it takes time for the symptoms to show up after getting an infection. Sometimes, patients barely show any signs, but that does not mean they don’t have the virus.

The signs and symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort, especially on the upper right side beneath the lower ribs (by your liver)
  • Clay-coloured stools
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low-grade fever
  • Dark coloured urine
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (Jaundice)
  • Intense itching
  • Fever

How is Hepatitis Diagnosed?

Lab tests include:

  • Liver function tests: It is used to screen for signs of hepatitis-related liver illness, such as high bilirubin (a blood by-product that causes jaundice) and specific liver enzymes that aid in vital activities. These enzymes usually are tightly controlled by the liver. When it’s broken, though, enzymes can leak into the bloodstream. A blood test is used to check the level of these enzymes.
  • Antibody tests: Specific antibody tests are available to test for Hepatitis A, B and C.
  • Abdominal Ultrasound: To detect the fluid build-up in the abdomen.
  • Computerized axial tomography: To check for any abnormalities in the physical structure of the liver. It can also help in the early detection of cancer.
  • MRI
  • Liver biopsy: A small piece of liver is taken to study under a microscope.
  • Polymerase chain reaction: To measure the quantity of virus in the blood.

What are the complications of Hepatitis?

Hepatitis can have severe complications. Some of them are:

  • Fibrosis: Constant liver inflammation creates scar tissue that keeps the organ from working the way it once did.
  • Liver cirrhosis: Long term fibrosis of livers results in cirrhosis. It is irreversible.
  • Liver cancer
  • Liver failure
  • Hepatic encephalopathy: Liver failure can cause brain inflammation and coma.

What is the Treatment for Hepatitis?

As Hepatitis is a viral infection, the body clears it on its own after a particular time. In most instances of hepatitis, the liver recovers without causing long-term damage within six months. The goal of most treatments is to keep the patient comfortable while also regulating the signs and symptoms. The patient is advised to:

  • Take rest
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Keep the body hydrated

Along with the above things, antiviral drugs are prescribed to combat the viral outgrowth in the body.

In case of liver failure, a liver transplant is done.

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