Hepatitis Hub: Insights & Action

Hepatitis is an acute parenchymal disease of the liver due to a variety of causes in which a variable number of hepatocytes undergoes necrosis. These episodes are largely due to infective agents. It can be acute which takes place suddenly and chronic which is a long term condition using progressive liver illness. Depending on the onset and course of liver cell injury, it is classified into acute and chronic.

Acute Hepatitis

It is an acute parenchymal disease of the liver evolving within hours. Causes of acute are of two types – Infective and Non – infective.

Infective causes include viral such as, hepatitis A, B, C, D, E, post-viral such as reye’s syndrome in children and non viral such as drugs, poisons, metabolic and vascular. Management of it depends on the specific etiological factor implicated in the acute injury to the hepatocytes. Clinical courses revolving in 2 to 4 weeks with supportive treatment that includes IV fluids, anti emetics, and symptomatic treatment.

Chronic Hepatitis

It is the inflammation of the liver that lasts at least six months. The most common causes are C virus, B virus and alcohol related liver disease. Symptoms can include redness of the palms, jaundice, liver cancer, an enlarged spleen etc. Treatment of chronic virus focuses on treating the cause and managing the complications.

Types Of Hepatitis

It includes five viruses that cause various types of viral hepatitis such as Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E.

Hepatitis A

It is highly infectious and mode of transmission is mainly by faeco-oral route and caused by a virus belonging to a group of enteroviruses. The virus is present in liver, bile, stools and blood during late incubation period. It can occur in all age groups but children are most commonly affected. Blood tests are used to look for signs of the hepatitis A virus in your body. Its treatment usually focuses on keeping controlling and comfortable symptoms. You just need to rest proper, get adequate food and liquid, avoid alcohol and use medications with care.

Hepatitis B

It is caused by hepatitis B virus . The virus only replicates in the liver and its route of transmission is par enteral mostly through infected blood products. It is also spread by needle-stick injury,  piercing, tattooing and exposure to infected blood and body fluids, such as saliva and menstrual, vaginal and seminal fluids. Common symptoms are nausea, tiredness, vomiting and pain in the abdomen. Several blood tests are available to diagnose and monitor people with hepatitis B. It can be treated with oral medicines including tenofovir or entecavir.

Hepatitis C

It is a single stranded RNA virus with six genotypes. Majority of causes are due to transmission of non-A, non-B viruses through blood. Signs and symptoms are poor appetite, itchy skin, swelling in the legs, weight loss and fluid buildup in the abdomen. Risk factor of infection increases if you are suffering from HIV, received a blood transfusion and Were born to a woman with a hepatitis C infection. Blood tests and tests for damaged liver are important for investigations. Hepatitis C infection is treated with antiviral medications intended to clear the virus from your body.

Hepatitis D

It is an RNA virus but requires B virus for replication. Modes of transmission are the same as hepatitis B virus. Signs include fatigue, fever, loss of appetite , dark urine, jaundice etc. It is diagnosed by high levels of anti-HDV immunoglobulin G (IgG) and immunoglobulin M (IgM), and confirmed by detection of HDV RNA in serum. Treatment recommended  for virus D is pegylated interferon alpha. It lasts for 48 weeks irrespective of the patient’s response.

Hepatitis E

It is also a RNA virus, excreted in the stools. Hence, the route of transmission is a faeco-oral route. It takes place in countries with poor hygiene and sanitation. If you do have symptoms, they may take place from 2 to 6 weeks. They may include : Mild fever, dark pee, light colored stools, yellowish skin etc. Under diagnosis, medical history and details ,matters a lot. In most cases, E goes away on its own in about 4-6 weeks but to ease your symptoms, you can rest, drink a lot of water and avoid alcohol.

Final Words

The liver plays a crucial role in removing toxins from blood, strong vitamins and producing hormones.  It can disrupt these procedures which leads to various health disorders. By understanding the whole concept of it, like types, causes, symptoms, investigations, prevention and treatments, we can work towards reducing it.

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