Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. Alcohol consumption, various health conditions, and some medications can cause this condition. However,
viral infections are the most common cause of hepatitis.
In this article
we describe the different types of hepatitis, their most common symptoms, causes, and how to treat and prevent the condition.
Hepatitis refers to an inflammatory disease of the liver. It is most commonly the result of a viral infection, but there are other possible causes of hepatitis.
These include autoimmune hepatitis and hepatitis that occurs as a result of medications, drugs, toxins and alcohol. Autoimmune hepatitis is a disease that occurs when your body makes antibodies against liver tissue.The five major viral classifications of hepatitis are hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. A different virus is responsible for each type of viral hepatitis.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates from reliable sources that 354 million people are currently living with chronic hepatitis B and C worldwide.
Hepatitis A results from infection with the hepatitis A virus (HAV). This type of hepatitis is an acute and short-term disease.Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and is often an ongoing chronic disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately 826,000 people in the United States and approximately 257 million people worldwide are living with chronic hepatitis B from reliable sources.
Hepatitis C originates from the hepatitis C virus (HCV). HCV is one of the most common blood-borne viral infections in the United States and usually occurs as a long-term disease.According to the CDC, about 2.4 million Americans are currently living with a chronic form of this infection.
This is a rare form of hepatitis that occurs only with infection with hepatitis B. Hepatitis D virus (HDV), like other strains, causes inflammation of the liver but without the presence of hepatitis B infection, a person cannot develop HDV.
HDV affects nearly 5 percent of people with chronic hepatitis B worldwide.Hepatitis E
Hepatitis E is a waterborne disease caused by exposure to the hepatitis E virus (HEV). Hepatitis E occurs primarily in areas of poor sanitation and typically results from ingestion of feces that contaminate water supplies.
This disease is rare in the United States, according to the CDC.
is usually acute, but can be particularly dangerous in pregnant women.
Causes of Noninfectious Hepatitis
Although hepatitis is most commonly the result of infection, other can cause the condition. factors
Alcohol and other toxins
Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to liver damage and inflammation. This can also be called alcoholic hepatitis.
Alcohol directly damages your liver cells. Over time, it can cause permanent damage, leading to thickening or scarring of liver tissue (cirrhosis) and liver failure.Other toxic causes of hepatitis include drug abuse and exposure to toxins.
Autoimmune System Response
In some cases, the immune system mistakes the liver for something harmful and attacks it. This leads to ongoing inflammation, which can range from mild to severe, and often impairs liver function. It is three times more common in women than in men.
Common Symptoms of Hepatitis
If you live with a chronic form of hepatitis, such as hepatitis B and C, you may not show any symptoms until the damage affects your liver function. In contrast, people with acute hepatitis may develop symptoms soon after contracting the hepatitis virus.
Common symptoms of infectious hepatitis are:
loss of appetite
unexplained weight loss
yellow skin and eyes, which can be signs of jaundice
What is hepatitis like? diagnosed
It is important to understand what causes hepatitis in order to be able to treat it properly. Doctors will run a series of tests to accurately diagnose your condition.
Medical History and Physical Examination
In order to diagnose all forms of hepatitis, your doctor will first take your medical history to determine possible risk factors.During a physical exam, your doctor may gently press on your abdomen to check for pain or tenderness. Your doctor may also look for liver inflammation and yellowing of the eyes or skin.
Liver Function Tests
liver function tests use blood samples to determine how efficiently your liver is working.
Abnormal results from these tests can be the first clue to a problem, especially if you don’t show any signs of liver disease on a physical exam. High levels of liver enzymes can indicate that your liver is stressed, damaged, or not working properly.Other blood tests
If your liver function tests are abnormal, your doctor will likely order other blood tests to find the cause of the problem.
These tests can tell if you have infectious hepatitis by checking for the presence of the hepatitis virus or antibodies your body makes to fight it.
Doctors may also use blood tests to look for signs of autoimmune hepatitis.
When diagnosing hepatitis, doctors also examine your liver for possible damage Trusted source. A liver biopsy is a procedure in which a sample of tissue is taken from your liver.A doctor can take this sample through your skin with a needle, meaning no surgery is needed. You will usually use an ultrasound as a guide during this procedure.
This test allows your doctor to determine how the infection or inflammation has affected your liver.