What is hepatitis? Hepatitis is a type of liver inflammation that can be caused by a variety of factors, including infections, medications, alcohol, abnormalities in the immune system, or a lack of blood supply to the liver. The liver is an important part of the body that performs a variety of functions, including detoxification, energy storage, and blood clotting control. Hepatitis can affect these liver functions and can lead to scarring or fibrosis inside the liver. Many viruses can infect the liver, but viral hepatitis refers to inflammation of the liver which is caused by one of several viruses that specifically attack the liver. These viruses are identified by the letters A, B, C, D, and E. The most common viruses in the United States are viral hepatitis A, B, and C. Onlymyhealth spoke to the editorial team Dr. Manish Kak, Consultant Gastroenterologist, Manipal Hospital, GhaziabadLearn about the treatment of viral hepatitis.
How is viral hepatitis transmitted?
Viral hepatitis A and E enter the body through the gastrointestinal tract. These viruses are transmitted by eating contaminated food or drinking fluids, which are usually found in the feces of an infected person. Hepatitis A can also be transmitted in crowded places, such as day care centers and punitive facilities, by eating raw shellfish from sewage-contaminated water or through sexual (usually anal) contact. Hepatitis E, although related to hepatitis A, is uncommon in the United States. The virus is found mostly in the Indian subcontinent and in certain parts of Africa. It is spread primarily through fecal-oral contamination (mentioned above).
Hepatitis B and C viruses are usually spread through contact with infected blood or blood products, as well as through sexual contact. In the United States, the most common form of hepatitis C infection is intravenous drug use. Heterogeneous hepatitis C infections are uncommon, although sexual intercourse with men is becoming more widely recognized as a risk factor for hepatitis C infection. Hepatitis B is spread through sex as well as intravenous drugs and can be passed from a mother to her fetus during delivery. Hepatitis D (also known as delta hepatitis) only affects people infected with hepatitis B. Hepatitis D is as contagious as hepatitis B.
Also read: Hepatitis B: Types, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment
What is acute viral hepatitis and what are its symptoms and consequences?
Acute viral hepatitis is defined as inflammation of the liver with symptoms and abnormalities of liver enzymes lasting less than six months. All of the viruses described above are capable of causing acute hepatitis. Symptoms of acute viral hepatitis may include low-grade fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dark urine, or light-colored stools. Jaundice, yellowing of the skin, and whitening of the eyes are the most common symptoms of acute viral hepatitis. Patients often report vague upper abdominal pain. Very few people with acute viral hepatitis have liver failure, which requires a liver transplant or death.
However, if a person becomes infected with hepatitis E during pregnancy, it can have serious consequences. With the exception of patients infected with hepatitis C, most cases of acute viral hepatitis heal on their own. More than 80% of people infected with hepatitis C will develop a chronic infection called chronic hepatitis. While most people with acute hepatitis B will recover, a significant number of newborns and young children will develop chronic hepatitis B.
What is chronic hepatitis? What are the consequences?
Chronic viral hepatitis is defined as persistent inflammation and / or abnormality of liver enzymes that last for more than six months. If left untreated, most people with chronic hepatitis will have this condition for the rest of their lives. In the United States, chronic viral hepatitis is largely confined to hepatitis B and C. Chronic viral hepatitis can lead to progressive liver disease, including cirrhosis and its aftermath, liver failure, liver cancer, and hemorrhagic disorders, but many people never experience it. These symptoms. Furthermore, those who use liver-toxic drugs may develop chronic hepatitis. Most of these problems can be avoided with early detection and treatment, and in the case of hepatitis B, immunization exposure can prevent acute infection.
Also read: Follow these 5 important tips to avoid hepatitis C.
How is viral hepatitis diagnosed?
A simple blood test can easily diagnose viral hepatitis (both acute and chronic). Although a liver sample (called a biopsy) is not always necessary, it can be effective in diagnosing difficult situations or when making treatment decisions based on the extent of the liver scar.
How is viral hepatitis treated?
- Acute viral hepatitis usually does not require treatment because most people recover on their own. Acute hepatitis C is a significant exception, as only 15% of patients clear the virus on their own, and most people will develop chronic hepatitis C if left untreated. Furthermore, when patients are treated at the stage of acute hepatitis infection, the cure rate is very high.
- Chronic hepatitis therapy is available for the most common causes of chronic hepatitis, hepatitis B and C. Drugs that inhibit the virus’s ability to spread and replicate are commonly used to treat chronic hepatitis B. These drugs include both oral and injectable therapies. Injectable paclitaxel interferon and oral medications known as direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) are approved for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B. There is currently no drug that can completely eradicate the hepatitis B virus. These drugs control the virus but do not completely eradicate it.
- The duration of treatment for paclitaxel interferon can range from one year for oral DAA, possibly indefinitely. Scientists are working on a treatment that will completely remove the virus and achieve what is known as an effective cure.