Hepatitis is a condition of liver characterised by inflammation of liver tissue. If the hepatitis condition resolves within 6 moths of its onset, it is referred ot as Acute hepatitis. If it extends beyond 6 months, it is referred to as Chronic hepatitis. Chronic hepatitis may eventually lead to liver failure, cirrhosis, or liver cancer.  

Causes of Hepatitis:

  • Viral infections: Viruses are a common cause of hepatitis. There are several types of viral hepatitis, including hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. Virus-originated hepatitis is also known as Viral hepatitis. 
  • Alcohol consumption: Heavy alcohol consumption over a long period of time can cause hepatitis. Alcohol-related hepatitis is also known as alcoholic hepatitis.
  • Drug and medication use: Some prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and illegal drugs can cause hepatitis
  • Autoimmune disorders: In conditions where the body’s immune system can attack its own organs like the liver, causing inflammation and hepatitis.
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: This is a condition where fat builds up in the liver and can cause inflammation, leading to hepatitis.
  • Metabolic disorders: Certain metabolic disorders, such as Wilson’s disease and hemochromatosis, can cause hepatitis.
  • Exposure to toxins: Exposure to certain toxins, such as chemicals and poisons, can cause hepatitis.

How is viral hepatitis spread?

  • Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and Hepatitis D may spread through blood contact with someone who has the disease. Sharing drug needles or indulging in unprotected sex with infected individuals can transmit the disease.
  • Hepatitis A and Hepatitis E usually spread through contact or virus-contaminated food or water. Sometimes undercooked pork, deer, or shellfish can also lead to Hepatitis E.

What are the symptoms of hepatitis?

Some people with hepatitis may not have symptoms and do not even know that they are infected. If you do have symptoms, they may include:

  • Jaundice which causes yellowish discoloration of eyes and skin
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pains
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Clay-colored stools

Hepatitis can be diagnosed through a combination of physical examination, medical history, and various lab tests. Physical examination: Physical examination to look for signs and symptoms of hepatitis, such as yellowish discoloration caused by jaundice, abdominal pain, and swelling.

Common lab tests for diagnosing hepatitis:

  • Blood tests: Blood tests can help to determine whether a person has hepatitis and which type of hepatitis they have. The tests can also measure the severity of the infection and monitor the progression of the disease.
  • Liver function tests: These tests measure the levels of liver enzymes and proteins in the blood that are produced by liver. Abnormal levels can indicate liver damage or disease, including hepatitis.
  • Imaging tests: Imaging tests such as MRI, CT scan, and ultrasound can provide images of the liver and help detect any abnormalities or damage.
  • Liver biopsy: A liver biopsy examination to look for signs of inflammation or damage.

Treatment:

Treatment of Hepatitis depends on the underlying causes of the disease. 

Hepatitis patients should take adequate rest and take a healthy diet that supports the functionality of liver. 

Medical management includes the use of Antiviral medications, Immunosuppressants, medications to relieve symptoms etc. 

Hepatitis can get better with Surgical management through liver transplantation.

Dr. Giridhar Reddy
Consultant Gastroenterologist

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