Hepatitis, which is the swelling and inflammation of the liver, is a disease that is life threatening but many are not aware of the danger it poses to their health. Efforts are on by concerned authorities to enlighten people on the killer disease.
Here is what you should know about the different types of hepatitis.
Hepatitis is most commonly caused by a viral infection. There are, however, other causes of hepatitis. These include autoimmune hepatitis (a disease occurring when the body makes antibodies against the liver tissue) and hepatitis that occurs as a secondary result of medications, drugs, toxins and alcohol.
The liver is located on the upper right side of the abdomen. It performs many critical functions that affect metabolism throughout the body, including:
• Bile production that is essential to digestion
• Filtering of toxins from the body
• Excretion of bilirubin, cholesterol, hormones, and drugs
• Metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins
• Activation of enzymes (specialised proteins essential to metabolic functions)
• Storage of glycogen, vitamins (a, d and k), and minerals
• Synthesis of plasma proteins, such as albumin
• Synthesis of clotting factors.
According to research, there are many people living with chronic hepatitis, and many more are unaware that they have it.
Viral infections of the liver that are classified as hepatitis are: hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E viruses. Hepatitis A is a milder version of the disease, whereas hepatitis D is more severe. Treatment options vary depending on what form of hepatitis is diagnosed, and what caused it. Some forms of hepatitis are preventable.
The Five Types of Viral Hepatitis
• Hepatitis A
This type derives from an infection with the Hepatitis A virus, HAV. This type of hepatitis is most commonly transmitted by consuming food or water that has been contaminated by faeces.
• Hepatitis B
This type derives from an infection with the Hepatitis B virus, HBV. This type is transmitted through puncture wounds or contact with infectious bodily fluids (such as blood, saliva or semen). Injection drug use, sex with an infected partner, or sharing razors with an infected person is activities that increase risk.
• Hepatitis C
This type comes from the Hepatitis C virus, HCV. This type of hepatitis is transmitted through direct contact with infected bodily fluids (typically through injection drug use and sexual contact).
• Hepatitis D
This is also called “delta hepatitis.” Hepatitis D is a serious liver disease caused by the Hepatitis D virus, HDV, which is contracted through puncture wounds or contact with infected blood. This is a rare form of hepatitis that occurs in conjunction with hepatitis B infection, and it is very uncommon in the United States.
• Hepatitis E
Hepatitis E is a waterborne disease caused by the Hepatitis E virus, HEV. Hepatitis E is mainly found in areas with poor sanitation and is typically caused by ingesting faecal matter.
Hepatitis A and E are normally contracted from eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water. Hepatitis B, C, and D are contracted through contaminated blood. These forms of hepatitis can be either acute or chronic, although types B and C usually become chronic.
Causes of Non-Viral Hepatitis
• Alcohol
Hepatitis can be caused by liver damage from excessive alcohol consumption. This is sometimes referred to as “alcoholic hepatitis.” The alcohol causes the liver to swell and become inflamed. Other toxic causes include overuse of medication or exposure to poisons.
• Autoimmune Disease
The immune system may mistake the liver as a harmful object and begins to attack it, hindering liver function.
Common Symptoms of Hepatitis
If you have forms of hepatitis that are usually chronic (hepatitis B and C), you may not have symptoms in the beginning. Symptoms may not occur until liver damage occurs.
Signs and symptoms of acute hepatitis appear quickly. They include:
• Fatigue
• Flu-like symptoms
• Dark urine
• Pale-coloured stool
• Abdominal pain
• Loss of appetite
• Unexplained weight loss
• Yellow skin and eyes (may be signs of jaundice)
Since chronic hepatitis develops slowly, these signs and symptoms may be too subtle to notice.
Hepatitis can be diagnosed by:
• Physical Exam
During a physical examination, your doctor may press down gently on your abdomen to see if there is pain or tenderness. He or she can also feel if the liver is enlarged. If your skin or eyes are yellow, your doctor will note this during the exam.
• Liver Biopsy
A liver biopsy is a minimally invasive test that involves the doctor taking a sample of tissue from your liver. This is closed procedure. In other words, it can be done through the skin with a needle and does not require surgery. This test allows the doctor to determine if an infection or inflammation is present or if or liver damage has occurred.
• Liver Function Tests
Liver function tests use blood samples to determine how efficiently the liver works. These tests check how the liver clears blood waste, protein, and enzymes. High liver enzyme levels may indicate that the liver is stressed or damaged.
• Ultrasound
An abdominal ultrasound uses ultrasound waves to create an image of the organs within the abdomen. This test will reveal fluid in the abdomen, an enlarged liver or liver damage.
• Blood Tests
Blood tests used to detect the presence of hepatitis virus antibodies and antigen in the blood will indicate or confirm which virus is the cause of the hepatitis.
The treatment options are determined by the type of hepatitis present and whether the infection is acute or chronic.
Tips to Prevent Hepatitis
• Practicing good hygiene is the main way to avoid catching hepatitis.
• Avoid sharing drug needles, razors
• Do not using someone else’s toothbrush
• Do not touching spilled blood
• Vaccines. Vaccinations are available to prevent the development of hepatitis A and B. Experts are currently developing vaccines against hepatitis C, D, and E.
Source: healthline.com

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