Hepatitis is the disease that affects the liver. It is an inflammatory condition of the liver. The primary cause of this disease is viral infection; however there are other possible factors that can lead to hepatitis. These factors consist of hepatitis which occurs as a side effect of drugs, medications, alcohol and toxins. Autoimmune disease, which is a condition in which your body produces antibodies against your liver tissue, is another factor that can lead to hepatitis.
The liver is the largest and one of the most important organs in the body; in fact, it is one of the body’s powerhouses. The primary function of the liver is to process nutrients and metabolizes medicines; it is also helps in clearing toxic waste products from the body. It is located on the upper quadrant of the abdomen.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that there are more than 4.4 million Americans who are currently suffering from chronic hepatitis. There are even many more people who have this condition without knowing it. When hepatitis affects the liver, it decrease or totally stops it from performing its functions such as:
- Removing of toxins from the body
- Production of bile which aids in digestion
- Excretion of cholesterol, bilirubin, and hormones
- Proteins, carbohydrates and fat metabolism
There are five main hepatitis viruses which pose greatest threat to human health because of the burden of illness and death they cause. They also have potential for outbreaks and epidemic spread. Hepatitis A is mild while types B and C are the most common cause of liver cancer and cirrhosis, two of them lead to chronic disease in hundreds of millions of people. The remaining two types D and E are rare in the United States.
The 3 most common types of hepatitis are A, B and C. Treatment of hepatitis varies according to the virus type. Some form of hepatitis can be prevented through immunizations and healthy lifestyle.
Let’s take at the three most common type of hepatitis
The hepatitis A Virus (HAV) is mostly transmitted through contact with the feces of infected person. Someone can also get hepatitis A by consuming foods or drinks that have been contaminated with feces. Compared to other types of hepatitis, hepatitis A is less destructive than other types and rarely leads to permanent liver damage.
The symptoms of this type of hepatitis can be treated; however the symptoms can go away on their own within a few weeks and virus totally gone from the system of the patient. Hepatitis will leave immunity in the body of person previously affected, this means that the individual will never against suffer from hepatitis A. You can protect yourself from against hepatitis A through vaccination.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that about 1.25 million people in the United States are living with chronic hepatitis B, they also believe that more than 350 million people worldwide have this disease.
Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) is one of the most serious and dangerous types of hepatitis. It can lead to a health condition known as cirrhosis which is the permanent scarring of the liver. It is transmitted through contact with infectious body fluids such as semen, blood and saliva and through puncture wounds. It is believed that unprotected sex with someone who has this disease is the most common way people get infected with hepatitis B virus in the United States. Sharing things like razor and needles pose the risk of getting HBV.
Treatment of Hepatitis B is very difficult and costly. In fact, there is no effective cure for hepatitis B. The chronic hepatitis B can be treated with antiviral medications. It needs to be monitored and evaluated on continuous basis to determine the progression of the virus. This can last for years and cost a lot of money. Most people that are infected with this type of virus can live with it forever. However, one can be protected from HBV by getting HBV vaccinations. In fact, it is a CDC recommendation that all newborns should be vaccinated with hepatitis B vaccinations.
The hepatitis C Virus (HCV) just like hepatitis B is transmitted through blood and other bloody fluids such as blood, semen and saliva. It can also lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer.
HCV is the most serious type of hepatitis. It is estimated that over 1.4 million citizens of United States are currently suffering from this virus. Hepatitis C is believed to be one of the most common reasons adults seek for liver transplant. There is no vaccine and no cure to this disease leading to death of thousands of people from this disease every year in the United States.
Before 1990, the most common way of getting HCV is through blood transfusion. Nowadays, the most common ways through which this disease is contacted is through having unprotected sex with infected person and through sharing drug paraphernalia like straws and needles.
Treatment of chronic hepatitis C requires frequent injection with antiviral drugs. The drugs used in treatment of this disease can be effective in controlling HCV in some patients. However, liver transplant may be required when it leads to cirrhosis.
Common Symptoms of Hepatitis
Chronic hepatitis B and C don’t usually show symptoms in time until it leads to liver damage. However, acute hepatitis signs and symptoms can appear quickly and they include;
- Abdominal pain
- Dark urine
- Flu-like symptoms
- Unexplained weight loss
- Pale stool
- Yellow skin and eyes
- Loss of appetite
Diagnosis of Hepatitis
Hepatitis can be diagnosed through one of the following medical procedures:
- Physical exam
- Liver biopsy
- Liver function test
- Blood tests
- Viral antibody testing
Prevention of Hepatitis
Hepatitis can be prevented through practicing of good hygiene. You can also avoid it by avoiding drinking of local water, eating seafood and raw fruits and vegetables when traveling to developing country. You can also avoid this disease by:
- Avoiding sharing needles
- Do not share razors
- Do not share toothbrush
- Avoid touching spilled blood
- Avoid having unprotected sex with infected partner.
More reading: Benefits of Milk thistle for Your Liver.