Hepatitis

LEARN ABOUT HEPATITIS

The liver is considered as the largest gland in the human body, and it is also an indispensable component of the digestive system. The organ performs several important functions, such as the production of bile which helps in more efficient digestion of complex molecules found in food. Aside from that, the liver also detoxifies the body in instances when alcohol or medication is taken in.

When a person fails to observe the proper diet, it takes a toll on the liver, and it makes it less efficient. Hepatitis is the condition in which there is swelling of the liver, primarily due to a viral infection.

Hepatitis can described as the damage to the liver due to certain inflammatory cells present in the tissues of liver. This condition can heal on its own or can result in the complete damage of the liver.

There are two kinds of hepatitis; acute hepatitis when its period is less than six months and if it is prolonged it can be referred as chronic hepatitis. Acute hepatitis can be with mild symptoms requiring no medical attention or even severe enough to require a liver transplantation. Most of the symptoms appear after a stage of 8 to 10 days and the illness can last up to 10 weeks. This is not the case with the chronic hepatitis. This kind of hepatitis does not have many symptoms and can be found out only through blood examination. This hepatitis usually gets worse and can leads to liver transplantations being required.

SYMPTOMS AND CAUSES

It is imperative to find out the early symptoms of hepatitis before it get worse. Though hepatitis types generally do not have symptoms, some patients may feel diarrhoea, nausea, loss of appetite, possibly jaundice or yellowing of the eyes and the skin, and darker-colored urine. Apparent symptoms include lack of appetite, muscle and join pains, dark yellow colored urine and yellow eyes and skin. In case of chronic hepatitis there may not be any symptoms or can show mild symptoms of acute hepatitis. The onset of jaundice will be shown in a later stage for both the types.

The main cause of acute hepatitis is viral infections. The infection is transmitted through mediums like contaminated food and water. Hepatitis A which is a subset of acute hepatitis can be transmitted through personal contact. The most dangerous variety is the hepatitis B which can develop into a chronic hepatitis.

Another main cause is ethanol which is present in alcoholic beverages. This is called as the alcoholic hepatitis and usually occurs after regular and increased alcohol consumption. Today there are a number of drugs whose consumption can also induce hepatitis. Its induction is mostly based on the type of drug and the patient’s tendency to react towards it. In most of the cases it can turn very complicated due to the hormonal contraception and thus the structural damage of liver.

There are several types of hepatitis, each caused by a different strain of virus, found in different sources.

Hepatitis A can enter the human body via contaminated drinks and food. This is also often called infectious hepatitis, and afflicts about 10,000 to 20,000 people in the United States per year. Doctors are able to diagnose this condition by getting a hepatitis profile from the patient, which can be done via liver testing. This condition is usually treated with bed rest and the abstinence from drinking alcohol. For children, this condition can be avoided if they are administered the hepatitis A vaccine early.

Hepatitis B is caused by a virus which is also called the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Like hepatitis A, hepatitis B can be prevented when a person receives the vaccine made especially for the viral strain. When the condition is not treated immediately, it can possibly lead to liver failure or cirrhosis, or in some instances, cancer of the liver. Hepatitis B can be transmitted via the blood, or through unsafe sex practices.

Sharing of hypodermic needles also creates the possibility of infection with the hepatitis B virus. This condition is also considered a sexually transmitted diseases (STD) because it can be transferred through sexual contact. When a person has multiple sexual partners, he or she is also likely to get infected with HBV. Approximately 60,000 persons per year in the United States are diagnosed with this condition. This can be treated by avoiding alcohol, or by using drugs like entecavir, adefovir dipivoxil, lamivudine, and telbivudine, among others. These drugs act on the genes of the virus to prevent them from replicating.

There are also other forms of hepatitis, and are given the letters C, D, and E. Although nearly all conditions have jaundice and yellowing as a symptom, the kinds of drugs used for treating them vary. There are also different incidences of the condition depending on the region of the world.

TREATMENT

As usual prevention is the best method of cure. Proper hygiene and avoidance of unpeeled and raw food products can stop the spread of hepatitis. Once the disease take the shape of jaundice it will be spread to other people on personal contact and through blood transfers. Incase of hepatitis B there are a number of vaccines which can be taken in the appropriate period to avoid the epidemic.

Recently there was a study of a kind of hepatitis G which is said to be spread through blood and sexual contact. Since it does not seem to be replicating in the liver there is a belief among physicians that it is only associated with the regular hepatitis. Since this disease relates to the functioning of liver, there is considerable restriction in the blood purification and impairing the liver of the removal of harmful substances. So in the initial stages of any type of hepatitis it is very helpful to take a lot of fluids which can regulate the balance in the blood stream.
 

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