Hepatitis: Types, Causes, Symptoms and Prevention

Hepatitis is actually the inflammatory condition of the liver. The word “hepatitis” is derived from the Greek word ‘hepar’ and Latin word ‘itis’. In this case, ‘hepar’ means liver and ‘itis’ means inflammation. It is generally caused by a viral infection but other possible causes are available including autoimmune hepatitis and it also occurs as a secondary result of drugs, medications, alcohol and toxins. In this case, autoimmune hepatitis is one kind of disease which happens when the body produces antibodies against your liver tissue.  

The healthy liver performs several following important functions in your body:

  • Liver produces bile which is necessary for food digestion;
  • It helps to filter the various toxins from the body;
  • It performs excretion of billirubin, hormones, cholesterol and drugs;
  • It helps to breakdown of proteins, fat and carbohydrates;
  • It performs to store glycogen, vitamins and minerals, etc.
  • It activates of enzymes which is essential for many body functions;
  • It synthesizes albumin in the blood;
  • It enhances the blood clotting factors;

About 250 million people are affected worldwide by hepatitis C and about 300 million people are hepatitis B virus carriers.  About 4.4 million Americans are currently suffering from chronic hepatitis B and C. About one fifth of the patients with chronic hepatitis B and C are at the risk of developing cirrhosis or cancer of the liver can.

General Causes of Hepatitis

  • Infectious viral diseases;
  • Glandular fever and cytomegalovirus can also lead to hepatitis;
  • Inborn metabolic disorders such as Wilson`s disease;
  • Haemochromatosis;
  • Severe bacterial and amoebic infections;
  • Paracetamol poisoning and halothane (an anaesthetic);
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol;
  • Fungal toxins;
  • Overuse or overdose of medications;
  • Exposure to poisons;

General Symptoms of Hepatitis

The symptoms of acute hepatitis vary considerably from person to person. In many cases, some patients do not show any symptoms at all while children only show weak symptoms. The following are some symptoms of hepatitis:

  • Tiredness;
  • General malaise;
  • Slight fever;
  • Nausea;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Changes in taste perception;
  • Enlarged liver;
  • Aching muscles and joints;
  • Headache;
  • Skin rash;
  • Yellowish skin and eyes(jaundice);
  • Dark urine;
  • Light-colored stools;
  • Muscle and joint pain;
  • High body temperature;
  • Pale, grey-colored poop;
  • Weakness;
  • Feeling sick;
  • Itchy skin;

General Diagnosis of Hepatitis

Blood cells help to determine the cause and severity of the hepatitis. Ultrasound and other types of liver scans are helpful to detect hepatitis. In certain situations, a liver biopsy may be recommended.

General Preventive Measures of Hepatitis

  • Hands should be washed thoroughly using soap after returning from the toilet;
  • Eat only cooked food;
  • Drink boiled water or bottled water;
  • Fruits should be cleaned and disinfected before eating;
  • Take a vaccine for hepatitis A before going to hepatitis endemic area;
  • If you are carrier then you should tell the partners;
  • Use latex condom to make safe sex;
  • You should only use fresh and clean syringe to inject drug;
  • Do not share personal care items such as razors, toothbrushes,etc.
  • Skin perforating equipment should be well-sterilized before using;
  • Do not share syringe and other drug equipment;

General Treatments of Hepatitis

There are no treatments specifically for hepatitis A. The vast majority of hepatitis A patients recover spontaneously. Hepatitis B patient needs to take rest and he also requires a diet with high protein and carbohydrate. This helps to repair damaged liver cells as well as to protect the liver. In some cases, doctor prescribes interferon to treat hepatitis. Hepatitis C patient needs to treat with pegylated interferon and ribavirin. Effective treatment is not available for hepatitis D and E.

If the patient has non-viral hepatitis, the doctor needs to remove the harmful substance from the body. It will be flushed out of the stomach by hyperventilation or induced vomiting.

Complications of Hepatitis

  • Cirrhosis;
  • Chronic liver disease;
  • Liver cancer;
  • Failure of kidney;
  • Bleeding disorder;
  • A buildup of fluid in abdomen(ascites);
  • Increasing high blood pressure;
  • Hypertension;
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma;
  • Death;

Types of Viral Hepatitis

There are five types of hepatitis that are caused by a virus. These are:

  1. Hepatitis A;
  2. Hepatitis B;
  3. Hepatitis C;
  4. Hepatitis D;
  5. Hepatitis E;

Each type is caused by a different virus. Most liver damage is caused by three hepatitis viruses, called hepatitis A, B and C.  Hepatitis can be divided into two subgroups based on its duration:

  • Acute hepatitis-lasting less than six months and
  • Chronic hepatitis-lasting longer than six months.

Hepatitis A is short-term disease and is always an acute but hepatitis B, C, and D are chronic and ongoing diseases while hepatitis E is generally acute which can be mostly dangerous in pregnant women.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is occurred by the infection of HAV (Hepatitis A virus). It is generally spread by hepatitis A infected person when any person consume contaminated food or water by feces or you may be infected from close contact with a person or object that is infected.  It can also be severe and life threatening if you do not take treatment.

Causes of Hepatitis A

It is caused by the following ways:

  • By drinking contaminated water;
  • By consuming raw shellfish from water polluted with sewage;
  • By eating contaminated virus infected food;
  • Having sex with virus infected person;
  • You may also be infected in close contact with a infected person;

Symptoms of Hepatitis A

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting and sudden nausea
  • Low-grade fever
  • Joint pain
  • Discomfort or abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Skin becomes yellowish with white eyes
  • Severe itching

Preventive Measures of Hepatitis A

As a preventive measure, you should practice good hygiene such as washing hands frequently. Safe and effective vaccine is available to protect against hepatitis A if the people at risk.

  • Before eating, wash all fresh fruits and vegetables;
  • Raw or undercooked meat and fish should be avoided to eat;
  • Drink bottle water or boiled water;
  • Use bottle water or boiled water during brushing your teeth;
  • You should avoid all types of unknown purity of beverages and ice cream;

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a serious liver infection which is occurred by the HBV (hepatitis B virus).  In many cases, it becomes chronic which leads to serious health issues such as developing liver failure, liver cancer or cirrhosis.  About 90% infected infants are infected chronically while only 2%–6% of adults are infected chronically.  About 350 million people live with chronic hepatitis B worldwide.

Causes of Hepatitis B

HBV can spread the following ways:

  • Through sexual contact;
  • By sharing of needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment;
  • It may occur from mother to baby at birth if the mother is infected with HBV.
  • Sharing razors with an infected person;
  • Any person who comes in contact with other infected human blood;
  • Through contact with vaginal secretions, or semen that contain the hepatitis B virus

Symptoms of Hepatitis B

  • Yellowish skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice);
  • Fever;
  • Abdominal pain;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Vomiting and nausea;
  • Fatigue and weakness;
  • Dark urine;
  • Joint pain;

Preventive Measures of Hepatitis B

  • By getting vaccination;
  • Using condoms during sex. In this case, you should use a new latex or polyurethane condom every time.
  • Wearing gloves when you touch others bandages or clean up tampons and linens;
  • Don’t share chewing gum;
  • By covering any open cuts or wounds;
  • Don’t share toothbrushes, razors and nail care tools;
  • Use fresh needles for injecting drugs;
  • Don`t share ear piercing or tattoos;
  • Use properly sterilized tools for manicures and pedicures;
  • Don’t use illegal drugs;

Treatment of Hepatitis B

  • You may use antiviral medication to prevent chronic hepatitis B;
  • Vaccination is very effected to prevent hepatitis B;
  • All newborns should be vaccinated. In this case, three vaccines are required to complete over the first six months of childhood;

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is occurred by the HCV (hepatitis C virus).  It is very life threatening disease because there is no vaccination for hepatitis C. It is a liver disease and it can be chronic and need a liver transplant. It is a common blood born liver infection in many countroes. In America, about 2.7 to 3.9 million people are currently suffering from the chronic hepatitis C.

Causes of Hepatitis C

  • HCV or hepatitis C virus is responsible for Hepatitis C;
  • Through blood contamination if you use infected or contaminated syringe;
  • By sharing equipment to inject drugs or needles;
  • Through sexual contact without using condoms;
  • Through infected mother to newly born baby at birth;
  • By sharing personal care items such as razor, nail clippers, toothbrushes, etc;
  • By creating tattoo or piercing using unsterilized equipment;

Hepatitis C does not occur through:

  • Hugging
  • Holding hands
  • Breastfeeding to child
  • By sharing food or drink
  • Casual contact
  • By kissing
  • Mosquito biting
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Sharing eating utensils, etc

Symptoms of Hepatitis C

Many people do not have any symptoms when they are infected with hepatitis. Between 2 weeks and 6 months after entering the virus enters into your bloodstream, the following symptoms appear:

  • Dark colored urine;
  • Fever;
  • Clay-colored poop;
  • Fatigue and weakness;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Yellowish skin and eyes (jaundice);
  • Abdominal pain;
  • Joint pain;
  • Vomiting;
  • Itchy skin;
  • Nausea;
  • Loss of weight;
  • Swelling in legs;
  • Skin shows spiderlike blood vessels;
  • Fluid may buildup in your abdomen;
  • Hepatic encephalopathy;

Preventive Measures of Hepatitis C

  • You should use latex condom during sex every time;
  • Don`t share personal care items such as razor, toothbrushes, nail clippers, etc;
  • Don’t share syringes, needles, or other equipment while taking drugs;
  • Use properly sterilized tools for manicures, pedicures, tattoo or body piercing;

Treatment and Medication of Hepatitis C

There is no recommendation if you suffer from acute hepatitis C but when it turns into a chronic form then it needs several medications that are available. The effective antiviral medications for both acute and chronic forms are interferon, peginterferon, and ribavirin, etc.  Generally chronic hepatitis C are treated using combination of antiviral drug therapies.

Hepatitis D

Hepatitis D is a serious disease caused by HDV (hepatitis D virus). It is also known as delta hepatitis. It is rare form of hepatitis which only occurs when any person is already infected with hepatitis B.  Nearly about 5% chronic hepatitis B infected people affects globally by the hepatitis D. It is a liver disease which does not occur in the absence of hepatitis B virus. Co-infection with HDV-HBV is the most chronic viral disease which progresses rapidly that can cause life-threatening hepatocellular carcinoma and death.

Causes of Hepatitis D

Hepatitis D is caused by HDV (Hepatitis D virus). This disease is infectious and transmits through direct contact with the bodily fluids of hepatitis D infected person. It can also be transmitted through:

  • vaginal fluids
  • Urine
  • Semen
  • Blood
  • Infected mother to newborn baby at birth.

Symptoms of Hepatitis D

  • Skin and eyes becomes yellowish (jaundice);
  • Abdominal pain;
  • Fatigue and weakness;
  • Joint pain;
  • Nausea;
  • Vomiting;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Dark colored urine;
  • Throwing up;
  • Light-colored stool;

Preventive Measures of Hepatitis D

  • The effective preventive measure is to avoid infection with hepatitis B;
  • Getting a vaccination; in this case, the vaccination should be taken a series of three injections over a period of six months;
  • You should always practice safe sex. In this case, use latex condom during sex;
  • Don`t use or avoid recreational drugs such as heroin or cocaine that can be injected;
  • Don`t share personal care items such as razor, toothbrushes, nail clippers, etc;
  • Don’t share syringes, needles, or other equipment while taking drugs;
  • Use properly sterilized tools for manicures, pedicures, tattoo or body piercing;

Treatment of Hepatitis D

To treat acute or chronic hepatitis D, there is no known treatment. Antiviral medications are not very effective against hepatitis D. The large dose of interferon is used for up to one year.

Hepatitis E

Hepatitis E is found worldwide and it is a waterborne disease which is caused the HEV (hepatitis E virus). Generally, it is occurred in areas with poor sanitation. Hepatitis E is most common in East and South Asia but also found in Middle East, Central America and africa. Hepatitis E virus is transmitted through contaminated water. About 20 million people are infected by this disease worldwide each year.

Causes of Hepatitis E

  • Eating uncooked or undercooked meat that comes from infected animals, such as deer, boar or pigs;
  • Eating raw shellfish that comes from virus tainted water;
  • Poor hand washing habits;
  • Lack of clean water;
  • Drinking virus contaminated water;

Symptoms of Hepatitis E

  • Fatigue;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Mild fever;
  • Tiredness;
  • Abdominal pain;
  • Light-colored poop;
  • Dark pee;
  • Joint pain;
  • Itching or skin rash;
  • Yellowish eyes and skin( jaundice);
  • Nausea;
  • Dark-colored urine;
  • Vomiting;
  • Clay-colored stool, etc;

Preventive Measures of Hepatitis E

There are no vaccines to prevent hepatitis E. To prevent hepatitis E, the following prevention measures should be taken:

  • Public water supplies should be maintained properly;
  • Avoid uncooked or undercooked meat that comes from infected animals such as pigs, boar, deer, etc;
  • Establishing standard disposal systems for human faeces;
  • Proper maintaining hygienic practices;
  • Avoid consuming of water and ice that comes from unknown purity;
  • Don`t eat raw shellfish that comes from unknown sources;
  • Drinking lots of water;
  • Taking rest;
  • Eating healthy foods;
  • Avoiding alcohol;
  • Taking enough nutrients;

Treatment of Hepatitis E

There is no specific treatment of acute hepatitis E.  In this case, you should avoid unnecessary medications.  An antiviral drug, ribavirin is effective for chronic hepatitis E. In some cases, interferon is used successfully to treat hepatitis E.