Definition of Hepatitis
Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver, which can be caused by viruses, medications, or toxic agents.
Description of Hepatitis
Hepatitis is usually characterized as viral hepatitis or non-viral hepatitis. Viral hepatitis can be considered “acute” (a condition that comes on rapidly with severe symptoms and a short course) or “chronic” (a condition that comes on slowly, may or may not have symptoms with has a long course).
Causes and Risk Factors of Hepatitis
Formerly called infectious hepatitis, hepatitis A is most common in children in developing countries, but is being seen more frequently in people of all ages and in the developed world. Hepatitis A is thought to be spread by a virus from an infected person’s feces directly or indirectly contaminating food, raw shellfish, drinking water, cooking utensils or someone else’s fingers. The incubation period is two to six weeks after infection. Hepatitis A is considered an acute condition.
Formerly called serum hepatitis, hepatitis B is the most serious form of hepatitis.
Hepatitis B is caused by the hepatitis B virus and is spread through sexual contact, blood transfusion or exposure to an infected person’s blood via cuts, open sores, needle sharing, razor sharing or ear piercing tools. Additionally, hepatitis B can be spread from mother to child at birth. The incubation period is four to 25 weeks.
Ninety percent of all hepatitis B cases are considered acute, while the other 10 percent are considered chronic and may progress to cirrhosis (a disease of the liver caused by chronic damage to its cells), liver failure or liver cancer.
Formerly called non-A, non-B hepatitis, hepatitis C is transmitted primarily by direct blood contact – via blood transfusion or and contaminated needles. Less common ways are through sexual contact or from mother to child at birth.
The incubation period is five to 10 weeks. Twenty-five percent of the hepatitis C cases are considered acute, while the other 75 percent are considered chronic, which may result in cirrhosis.
Formerly called delta hepatitis, hepatitis D is found mainly in intravenous drug users who are carriers of the hepatitis B virus. Hepatitis D can cause both acute and chronic disease.
Formerly called enteric or epidemic non-A, non-B hepatitis, hepatitis E resembles hepatitis A, but is caused by a different virus from hepatitis C and is commonly found in the Indian Ocean area. Hepatitis E is considered an acute condition.
Symptoms of Hepatitis
Hepatitis produces an initial “acute phase,” often with few if any symptoms. If there are symptoms, they tend to mimic “flu-like” symptoms such as:
- mild fever
- muscle or joint aches
- loss of appetite
- slight abdominal pain
The acute phase and its symptoms is rarely serious or fatal, although occasionally called fulminant progressing form leads to death (additional symptoms):
- jaundice (yellowed skin, mucous membranes and eye-whites)
- dark urine
- light colored stools that may contain pus
- enlarged spleen (symptom of alcoholic hepatitis only)
- headache (symptom of toxic/drug-induced hepatitis only)
- dizziness (symptom of toxic/drug-induced hepatitis only)
- drowsiness (symptom of toxic/drug-induced hepatitis only)
- circulation problems (symptom of toxic/drug-induced hepatitis only)
Diagnosis of Hepatitis
The doctor will take a thorough medical history with emphasis on the patient’s medications, alcohol consumption, previous surgeries and sexual activity. He or she may palpate the area over the liver to check for tenderness or enlargement.
If the skin becomes jaundiced and the person is exhibiting other symptoms of hepatitis, the doctor will do various lab tests, such as blood tests and liver panel tests. Additional lab tests include the antibody tests (ELISA II, RIBA II) and the hepatitis C RNA test via PCR technology for diagnosis of hepatitis C only.
If needed, the doctor may also perform a liver biopsy where a small portion of the liver would be taken for further examination under a microscope.
Treatment of Hepatitis
There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A. The doctor will recommend the abstinence of alcohol and drugs during recovery. Most cases of hepatitis A resolve themselves spontaneously.
The only treatment for hepatitis B is rest, combined with a high protein/high carbohydrate diet to repair damaged liver cells and protect the liver. If hepatitis B persists, the doctor may recommend an antiviral agent called interferon.
The only approved treatment for hepatitis C virus, and the only one with demonstrated efficacy, is interferon alfa-2b (Intron A). Currently, there is not effective treatment for hepatitis D and E.
For treatment of non-viral hepatitis, the doctor will first remove the harmful substance by flushing out the stomach via inducing vomiting or hyperventilation. If necessary, the patient with drug-induced hepatitis will be treated with corticosteroids.
will be continue the prevention of this disease..