Knowing everything about hepatitis before dealing with it is important. Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis infections are caused by viruses that enter the body through different routes and attack the liver, which acts as a filtering unit within the body. When hepatitis contaminates this vital organ, the liver cannot do its job and toxins accumulate. Also, the liver is responsible for clotting factors, and infection impairs this function. Read everything about hepatitis and know the crucial:
Types of Hepatitis
There are five different types of hepatitis: A, B, C, D, and E.
- Hepatitis A
One of the more common causes of acute hepatitis is hepatitis A virus (HAV), which was isolated by Purcell in 1973. Humans appear to be the only reservoir for this virus. Infection with the hepatitis A virus (HAV), an enterovirus transmitted principally through person-to-person contact, and also through food and water contaminated with fecal matter from an infected individual. Eating shellfish taken from impure water is another known route of infection. Symptoms of Hepatitis A typically improve within three weeks, but can linger for several months.
- Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease that ranges in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, life long illness. Hepatitis B can be either acute or chronic. In chronic stage, the liver disease can progress and cause cirrhosis requiring liver transplantation. Some patients with cirrhosis develop liver cancer too. Many people with chronic Hepatitis B virus infection do not know they are infected since they do not feel or look sick. However, they can still spread the virus to others and are at risk of serious health problems themselves. Treatment for these cases includes medications such as antivirals and in severe cases a liver transplant may be needed.
- Hepatitis C
The hepatitis C virus was discovered in 1989. Prior to that, it was associated with blood transfusions, but was called non-A, non-B hepatitis because the virus could not be identified. It is now known that there are several hereditary types of the hepatitis C virus. Hepatitis C can remain asymptomatic for decades. If left unchecked, 20–25% of infected individuals will develop cirrhosis of the liver, 3–5% of whom will develop liver cancer each year. Of the infected population, 50–60% remain undiagnosed and unaware of the risks associated with the disease.
- Hepatitis D
Hepatitis D virus (HDV) is found only in people who carry the hepatitis B virus. HDV may make liver disease worse in people who have either recent or long-term hepatitis B. It can even cause symptoms in people who carry hepatitis B virus but who never had symptoms. No vaccine is available for HDV, but the hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccination is effective against HDV.
- Hepatitis E
It tends to be similar to hepatitis A because it’s not a persistent disease — it eventually leaves your system. Hepatitis E is more pervasive in countries with poor sanitary conditions, and it can be deadly to pregnant women. Like the other types of viral hepatitis, hepatitis E causes engorgement and inflammation of your liver.
Symptoms of Hepatitis
The most important branch of knowing everything about hepatitis is its symptoms. At first, chronic hepatitis often does not cause any symptoms. People with symptoms most commonly complain of exhaustion. Fatigue worsens throughout the day and may even be debilitating. Other common symptoms include:
- Mild upper abdomen discomfort
- Loss of appetite
If chronic hepatitis becomes more relentless, people may experience additional symptoms, including:
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
- Abdominal swelling
- Weight loss
- Muscle weakness
- Easy contusion and spontaneous bleeding
Testing for Hepatitis
A hepatitis blood test screens an individual’s blood for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C antibodies. If there are hepatitis antibodies in an individual’s blood, his or her immune system is either currently combating a hepatitis infection or has fought the infection in the past. Due to the dependence of HDV on HBV, the presence of HBsAg is necessary for the diagnosis of HDV infection. Acute HEV infection is usually diagnosed by detecting specific anti-HEV antibodies (IgM and IgG). Analysis of HEV RNA in biologic specimens such as stools, serum, and liver biopsy using NATs is also used for diagnosis. Keeping oneself informed in knowing Everything about Hepatitis is the first step towards avoiding it.