What is Hepatitis? Understanding its Types, Causes and Symptoms

What is Hepatitis? Understanding its Types, Causes and Symptoms

Many of us might not realize that our liver is one of the largest organ in the body. The liver is also one of the most vital part as it serves a lot of bodily functions. Our liver helps digest our food, it also stores our energy, and most importantly, it removes all of the toxins from our body.

However, when we do not take care of our liver, it will eventually succumb to inflammation. When the inflammation become worse, it is considered as a disease. The inflammation of our liver is called hepatitis.

Hepatitis is caused by a viral infection. These viruses come in different types known as hepatitis A, B and C. These viruses are classified by the severity of the infection. Hepatitis can range from mild to serious, often leading to scarring of the liver like cirrhosis or even cancer.

 

Hepatitis – What is it?

When there is a viral inflammation of the liver, the condition is known as hepatitis. Generally, the viruses causing hepatitis is transmitted through a person sharing items with another who also has the disease. However, not all viruses are the causes of hepatitis. There are also other reasons why hepatitis can happen to an individual. Often, the result of the misuse of drugs, medication, toxins, and even alcohol can cause hepatitis. When a person has hepatitis, the diseases causes our body to create antibodies and attack the tissues of the liver.

In our body, the liver is placed in the upper right area of the abdomen. As mentioned, the liver carries out many of the critical functions in the whole body that mostly affects our metabolism. These functions include:

 

–    Production of bile which is essential for the body’s digestion

–    Removing toxins from the body

–    Eliminating biliburin which are the result of red blood cells being broken down

–    Eliminating cholesterol, drugs, and hormones

–    Breaking down of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates

–    Activating enzymes which are concentrated proteins that are also important for body functions

–    Storing of glycogen, vitamins, and minerals

–    Production of blood proteins and helps in blood clotting

 

In the United States, about 4 million people are currently diagnosed with any form of chronic hepatitis disease. The most common of them are hepatitis B and C. Some people are even living their lives and are unaware that they have the disease.

 

What are the types of hepatitis?

There are currently five different types of viral liver infections. These include hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. For every type of transmitted hepatitis, a different type of virus is responsible. A milder, more acute type of hepatitis virus is hepatitis A. Hepatitis, B, C and D are chronic and is usually ongoing. Here, we will try to understand each of these viruses and what causes them.

 

Hepatitis A

The hepatitis virus A (HAV) is what causes this type of infection. Usually, the virus in this type of hepatitis is caused commonly by consuming water or food that is contaminated by the feces from a person who’s also infected with the virus.

 

Hepatitis B

This type of hepatitis is one of the most common forms of hepatitis. The virus is spread through contact with body fluids that are infected. These body fluids include blood, semen, secretions, saliva which contains the hepatitis B virus. This is usually transmitted through injections from drug use, sexual intercourse or sharing razors with infected persons.

There is an estimate of more than 1 million Americans and more than 300 million people all over the world who are living with this disease.

 

Hepatitis C

Almost similar to hepatitis B, hepatitis C (HCV) is transmitted through contact with fluids from the body that are infected with hepatitis C. This is typically through injections from drug use as well as sexual contact.

 

Hepatitis D

Another term for this type of hepatitis virus is delta hepatitis. This type of hepatitis is a severe liver disease caused by the hepatitis D virus typically contracted through infected blood. This type of hepatitis is rare as it only happens when it combines with the hepatitis B virus.

 

Hepatitis E

This type of hepatitis virus is a waterborne disease. It usually spreads in areas that have poor and unhealthy sanitation. When feces gets ingested through the contaminated water supply, the disease is spread. This type of hepatitis is common in underdeveloped countries like Africa, Central America and some parts of Asia and the Middle East.

 

What are the symptoms indicating hepatitis?

Some people may have hepatitis without feeling any of the symptoms. However, when the condition becomes chronic, symptoms may eventually start to show as it has already damaged some of the liver functions.

 

These symptoms include:

–    Having colds or flu

–    Fatigue

–    The pain felt in the abdominal area

–    Urine that is dark in color

–    Stool that has a pale shade

–    Loss of appetite

–    Weight loss that is unexplained

–    Eyes and skin becomes yellowish, which can be signs of jaundice

 

Since chronic hepatitis is a condition that slowly develops, it is likely that signs may be too subtle to be noticed.

 

How to prevent hepatitis

Fortunately, modern medicine has treatments that are available if a person has hepatitis. Medical exams like blood tests, liver function tests, ultrasound, and liver biopsy are just some of the conventional treatments that you can avail if you suspect you have hepatitis.

 

There are also tips on how to prevent the virus from spreading. These tips include:

 

–    Make sure to practice good hygiene. If you are traveling to developing countries, try to avoid drinking tap or local water, eating raw foods, fruits or vegetables.

 

–    Avoid sharing needles, razors, toothbrush, or spilled blood from people you might suspect have hepatitis.

 

–    Practice safe sex by using condoms or dental dams to lessen the risk of infection from body fluids.

 

–    Limit the intake of alcohol as it can also create damage to the liver.

 

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