Hepatitis is overall inflammation of the liver caused by multiple viruses and noninfectious agents resulting in a range of health issues, some of which could become more “severe.”
Almost five main strains of the hepatitis virus are referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. They all could lead to liver disease, but they all differ in important ways, including modes of transmission, severity of the illness, geographical distribution and prevention methods.
Specifically, types B and C lead to chronic diseases in hundreds of millions of people and are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis, liver cancer and viral hepatitis-related deaths.
An estimated 354 million people around the globe lives with hepatitis B or C, and for most, testing and treatment remain beyond reach.
Causes of Hepatitis-
Though, hepatitis is most commonly the result of an infection, other factors can also result in causing the condition.
- Excess alcohol consumption is one of the major factors in causing liver damage and inflammation. This may also be called as alcoholic hepatitis. The alcohol directly injures the cells of your liver. Over time, it can cause permanent damage and lead to thickening or scarring of liver tissue (cirrhosis) and liver failure. Other toxic causes of hepatitis include misuse of medications and exposure to toxins.
- In some other cases, the immune system mistakes the liver as harmful and attacks it. This causes ongoing inflammation that can range from mild to severe, often hindering liver function. It is three times more common in women as compared to men.
Symptoms of hepatitis-
If one is suffering from chronic form of hepatitis, like hepatitis B and C, one may not show the symptoms until the damage affects liver function. By contrast, people with acute hepatitis may present with symptoms shortly after contracting the hepatitis virus.
Common symptoms include-
- flu-like symptoms
- dark urine
- pale stool
- abdominal pain
- loss of appetite
- unexplained weight loss
- yellow skin and eyes, which may be signs of jaundice.
How to prevent Hepatitis?
Safe & effective vaccines are there to curb the hepatitis B virus (HBV). This vaccine also controls the development of the hepatitis D virus (HDV) and given at birth enormously lowers transmission risk from mother to child. Chronic hepatitis B infection can be diagnosed with antiviral agents.
Proper treatment can reduce the spread of cirrhosis, lower incidence of liver cancer & improve long-term survival. Just a proportion of people with chronic hepatitis B infection will need proper treatment. A vaccine also exists to curb infections of hepatitis E (HEV), although it is not currently widely available.
There are no proper treatments for HBV and HEV as well as hospitalization is not usually needed. It is advised to avoid unnecessary medications because of the negative effect on liver function which is caused by these infections.
Hepatitis C (HCV) could result in both acute and chronic infection. Some people make it possible to recover on their own, while others develop a life-threatening infection or either further complications, which includes cirrhosis or cancer.
Currently, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C. Antiviral medicines can help in curing over 95% of persons with hepatitis C, thereby lowering the risk of death from cirrhosis & liver cancer, but access to diagnosis as well as treatment remains low.
Whereas, Hepatitis A virus (HAV) is usually very common is low- and middle-income nations because of reduced access to clean and reliable water sources & the increased risk of contaminated food. A safe and effective vaccine is there to curb hepatitis A. Most HAV infections are mild, with the majority of people recovering fully and developing immunity to further infection. However, these infections can also rarely be severe and life threatening due to the risk of liver failure.