Hepatitis – Types, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

Hepatitis is an inflammation of liver tissues, which is oftentimes caused by a viral infection. However, there may be different causes of hepatitis, such as excessive alcohol consumption and certain medications. It is also not uncommon that some people experience hepatitis without symptoms at all – at least at the initial stage.

Liver is a crucial organ in the human body, whereas it detoxifies different metabolites, produces biochemicals that are needed for digestion, and sythetizes protein. Therefore, taking care of the state of your liver is necessary for a normal life. Unfortunately, many Americans are unaware that they have one form or another of hepatitis. Preventing some forms of this illness is possible through vaccinations and by leading an appropriate lifestyle.

Types

There are 5 types of this disease, three of which are long-term and highly damaging to the human body.

Hepatitis A. HAV, as an infection that causes hepatitis A is known, is usually transmitted through food and water contaminated with the feces of a person suffering from hepatitis A. This is an acute, short-term form of liver inflammation. There is no particular treatment, but the liver becomes normal again after the disease passes.

Hepatitis B. This type of the illness is transmitted through contact with body fluids containing the HBV virus, such as semen, vaginal secretions, or blood. It is a chronic disease, which oftentimes leads to terrible consequences.

Hepatitis C. This illness type is also transmitted through the direct contact with body fluids containing the HCV virus. Usually it happens via sexual contact and drug use. Same as the type B, this is a chronic disease.

Hepatitis D. Also known as delta hepatitis, this is a severe liver disease caused by the HDV virus. It is a rare form of the illness, and it is usually transmitted through the direct contact with contaminated blood. It is notable that hepatitis D cannot multiply without the presence of the hepatitis B, so the D type is usually diagnosed together with the B type as well.

Hepatitis E. This type of the illness is waterborne, caused by the HEV virus. Usually, this type of hepatitis is found in countries and areas with poor sanitation – the transmission usually occurs from digesting the feces that contaminate the water supply. The disease is uncommon in developed countries, but frequently occurs in Asia, Africa, Middle East, and Central America.

Symptoms

These are the usual symptoms of hepatitis:

  • Yellow skin and eyes, pointing to the jaundice
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pale stool
  • Dark urine
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Fatigue.

Treatment

Hepatitis A. This is a short-term, acute disease, which doesn’t require treatment. As soon as the symptoms disappear, the liver inflammation also goes away. Bed rest may be recommended. Doctors may order on how to stay well-nutritioned and hydrated in a case of vomiting or diarrhea. There is a vaccine for hepatitis A.

Hepatitis B. Acute version of this form doesn’t require treatment. Antiviral medications are necessary for treating chronic hepatitis B type. The overall treatment may be costly because it requires meds to be taken for several months or even years. Further screening and monitoring is needed to see whether the disease responds to treatment. There is also a vaccination available, which is injected in a series of three shots (usually within a 12-month timeframe).

Hepatitis C. Doctors use antiviral medications to treat both the acute and chronic forms of this illness. As a result of the ongoing disease, people may develop cirrhosis and become candidates for a liver transplant. For now, vaccine for this form of hepatitis doesn’t exist.

Hepatitis D. Currently, there are only experimental drugs for this form of the disease. Prevention of this hepatitis form is possible via the vaccination against hepatitis B.

Hepatitis E. At the present time, there is no particular treatment for this type of the illness. It is acute and usually resolves on its own. Resting, getting enough nutrition, drinking plenty of water and avoiding alcohol is recommended. Pregnant women must be closely monitored. Sometimes hepatitis E can be lethal.

Prevention

Prevention tips for A and E forms:

  • Avoid ice and local water in developing countries
  • Avoid raw fruits and vegetables
  • Avoid raw or undercooked shellfish oysters.

Prevention tips for B, C and D forms

  • Do not share razors
  • Do not share drug needles
  • Don’t use someone else’s toothbrush
  • Don’t touch spilled blood
  • Practice safe sex
  • Vaccinations against hepatitis A and B.

 
Hepatitis