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Viral Hepatitis- Types, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Viral Hepatitis is a type of viral infection that affects the liver and causes inflammation of liver cells. The main function of the liver is to store vitamins, eliminate toxins from the body, and produce hormones. However, viral hepatitis can disrupt these basic functions. Viruses are responsible for causing hepatitis and the most common types are Hepatitis A, B, and C. Infection with any of these 3 viruses can cause life threatening complications. Viral Hepatitis- Types, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Types of Viral Hepatitis

Each type of viral hepatitis has different methods of transmission and different characteristics. However the symptoms can be similar. The different types of viral hepatitis include:

  • Hepatitis A: Hepatitis A (HAV) virus causes the infection Hepatitis A and is usually an acute and short term viral hepatitis
  • Hepatitis B: Hepatitis is an ongoing viral infection caused due to Hepatitis B virus. It is the most common form of hepatitis affecting millions worldwide.
  • Hepatitis C: Hepatitis C is caused by the Hepatitis C virus and is also a common blood borne viral infection.
  • Hepatitis D: This form of Hepatitis infection is usually very rare and occurs in conjunction with Hepatitis B. Caused by the Hepatitis D virus, this infection causes inflammation of the liver. A person cannot contract Hepatitis D without an existing Hepatitis B infection.
  • Hepatitis E: Caused by the Hepatitis E virus, this infection is a waterborne disease and mainly affects areas with poor hygiene and sanitization. It typically results in ingesting fecal matter that contaminates the surrounding drinking water areas.

Causes of Viral Hepatitis

Causes of Viral Hepatitis are different for different virus. A small chart includes the causes of the viral infections caused by these Hepatitis viruses.

  • Hepatitis A: Exposure to HAV virus in water or food.
  • Hepatitis B: Contact with the HBV virus through body fluids such as semen, vaginal secretions, and blood.
  • Hepatitis C: Contact with the HCV virus through body fluids like semen, vaginal secretions, and blood.
  • Hepatitis D: Contact with the HBD virus and those having existing Hepatitis B infection.
  • Hepatitis E: Exposure to HEV virus in water or food.

Symptoms of Viral Hepatitis

If you are suffering from a chronic form of hepatitis like Hepatitis B or C, symptoms may not crop up until it damages the liver. People with acute form of hepatitis can present many symptoms. Some of the common symptoms of viral hepatitis include: viral hepatitis symptoms diagnosis

  • Pale stool
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Yellow skin and eyes indicating jaundice

Diagnosis of Viral Hepatitis

It is very crucial to diagnose viral hepatitis to cure it correctly. To diagnose viral hepatitis, your doctor may prescribe a series of diagnostic tests like

History and physical examination

Evaluation of the patient’s medical history and physical examination is necessary. Physical examination involves checking for yellow discoloration and swelling of liver.

Liver function tests

Liver function tests are prescribed to check if the liver is functioning properly. An abnormal liver function test will indicate that the liver is stressed due to an underlying infection.

Liver Biopsy

To assess your liver for more potential damage, a biopsy is also performed. This helps the doctor to determine how the infection is caused or how inflammation has affected your liver.

Ultrasound

Abdominal ultrasounds are also usually performed to check the health of the organs. An abnormal ultrasound can indicate an underlying viral infection.

Treatment of Viral Hepatitis

Treatment of Viral Hepatitis will vary depending upon the type of hepatitis infection contracted. Listed below is how each hepatitis infection is treated.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is usually a short term illness and does not need any specific treatment. However if symptoms persist and make you uncomfortable for a long time, your doctor will recommend a diet to maintain nutrition and hydration.

Hepatitis B

If you are suffering from acute Hepatitis B infection, there is no specific treatment. However, if the infection is chronic, anti-viral medications are prescribed to control the infection.

Hepatitis C

Anti-viral infections are prescribed to treat both chronic and acute cases of Hepatitis C infections. People who develop liver diseases or cirrhosis due to Hepatitis C may need a liver transplant.

Hepatitis D

Pegylated interferon alpha is a recommended treatment for Hepatitis D infections. However, since this treatment has side effects it is not recommended for those having autoimmune diseases, psychiatric conditions, and cirrhosis liver damage.

Hepatitis E

Since Hepatitis E infection is usually acute, it does not need any specific treatment. This viral hepatitis infection resolves on its own.

Conclusion:

While Hepatitis infections can be treated, it is important to diagnose it early. A late diagnosis or wrong treatment can be life threatening or fatal. Most people recommend various prevention tips to prevent contracting the viral hepatitis infections. A good lifestyle and hygiene will help a long way in preventing and controlling hepatitis infection.

References:

https://www.healthline.com/health/hepatitis#prevention

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/145869#symptoms

Yaamini Radhakrishnan
Yaamini Radhakrishnan:I am a clinic research professional, graduate in biotechnology and post graduate in biochemistry. Have also pursued freelance writing since the past 5 years I am married and have a daughter. I am a native and reside at Bangalore.

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