What Are The Symptoms And Types Of Hepatitis?
Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. Some types of hepatitis will pass without causing any serious problems, while some can be long-lasting and progress to cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) or liver cancer in some cases. It may be caused by viruses, infection, alcohol, chemicals, drug use or autoimmune diseases. All over the world, hepatitis is most commonly caused by hepatitis viruses. Let’s look into hepatitis symptoms and types.
What Are The Types Of Hepatitis?
Infectious Types Of Hepatitis:
There are five types of hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D, and E. Each virus causes slightly different hepatitis and has a different way of spreading. Since these viruses can be spread from one person to another, health care professionals refer to viral hepatitis as infectious hepatitis. Type B and C are the most common causes of chronic hepatitis and serious liver damage among the five viruses.
Hepatitis A: Hepatitis A virus is present in the feces of an infected person. If an infected person does not wash hands properly after using the bathroom, the virus may spread from the person’s hands. This virus is most often transmitted through consuming virus-contaminated drinks and food.
The maximum percent of people with hepatitis A usually recovers completely within six months. Effective vaccination is available to prevent Hepatitis A and is recommended for people with high risk or severe consequences of infection. This disease is common in areas where sanitation is poor.
Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B virus is spread through exposure to infected blood, vaginal secretions, semen, or other body fluids. It can also be spread from the mother to the baby at the time of birth. Infected children may pass the virus to other children in case of frequent contact or if a child has many cuts. The use of shared injecting equipment may also cause virus transmission.
Most adults who are exposed to this virus fully recover within six months. Infected children and babies are more prone to develop long-term hepatitis B. Effective vaccination is available to prevent this disease.
Hepatitis C: Exposure to infected blood is the most common mode of transmission of the hepatitis C virus. It may occur through sharing injecting drug equipment, and it can also be passed from mother to child during pregnancy.
About 1 in 4 infected persons will fully recover from the infection, and there are currently no vaccines available to prevent Hepatitis C. Chronic hepatitis can cause cirrhosis and liver failure.
Hepatitis D: It is prevalent in parts with a high incidence of hepatitis B virus. Hepatitis D occurs only in people infected with the hepatitis B virus, as the hepatitis D virus needs the hepatitis B virus to survive in the body.
It usually spreads through blood-to-blood contact (injection drug use) or sexual contact. This dual infection can increase the risk of developing serious problems. Currently, there is no specific vaccine for hepatitis C, but hepatitis B vaccines provide protection from Hepatitis D.
Hepatitis E: Hepatitis E virus is mainly transmitted through the consumption of contaminated food or water. It is usually a mild and short-term disease, but it can be severe in pregnant women, especially during the last 3 months of pregnancy and in people with a weakened immune system. Vaccines are not widely available for Hepatitis E.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infections may also cause inflammation of the liver. Antiviral medications can help control viral hepatitis.
Non-Infectious Types Of Hepatitis:
Some drugs or diseases can cause inflammation of the liver, and they cannot spread from one person to another person.
Alcohol – Excessive consumption of alcohol can cause inflammation of the liver. Up to 35% of heavy drinkers develop hepatitis, which can be mild or severe. Continuous alcohol consumption could increase the risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer. Liver damage may be reversed if the person quits drinking based on the stage of the disease.
Autoimmune hepatitis – Autoimmune hepatitis is a disorder in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy liver cells in your body. It is a rare cause of chronic hepatitis, and liver damage can stop liver function eventually.
Drug-induced hepatitis – The liver helps to break down certain medications in the blood. Long term medications can cause high amounts of medicines in the blood which causes a burden to the liver causing inflammation. Few examples of the drugs which cause such effects are acetaminophen, aspirin, anabolic steroids, some antibiotics, etc.
Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) – It is a severe form of NAFLD (fat build-up in the liver). NASH causes the liver to swell and get damaged. It often occurs in people who are obese, have diabetes or have high cholesterol.
What Are Hepatitis Symptoms?
Short-term hepatitis mostly has no noticeable symptoms. If symptoms develop, they can include:
- High temperature
- Nausea, vomiting
- Muscle and joint pain
- Unusual tiredness for a long time
- Feeling unwell
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach pain
- Dark urine
- Pale, gray-colored feces
- Yellowing of the whites of the eyes and skin (jaundice)
- Itchy skin
Long-term hepatitis may also not show any apparent symptoms and may only be found out during blood tests. Jaundice, swelling in the ankles, feet, and legs, confusion, and blood in the stools or vomit can occur at later stages.
Get vaccinated against hepatitis B and A. Avoid sharing personal belongings such as toothbrushes, razors, nail clippers. Direct exposure to toxins and unprotected sex may increase your risk of infections. Make sure the needles used for tattoos and body piercings are clean. In any case, if you are exposed to someone’s blood, get medical care.
Some traditional and alternative remedies may contain heavy metals or unknown toxins. Seek your physician’s advice about any supplements, over-the-counter medicines, or herbal remedies if you have planned to take any.