Hepatitis in simple terms is an infection of the liver – it refers to an inflammatory condition of the liver. Hepatitis mostly is caused by an infection, it can also de as a result of medications, drugs, toxins, alcohol. It can also be due to autoimmune activities – a condition where your body makes antibodies against your liver tissue.
5 Types of Hepatitis Infection & Their Treatments
Hepatitis infections are classified as hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. Each class of hepatitis are caused by a different virus.
Treatment options often depends on the type of hepatitis you have and severity of the infection.
Hepatitis A is always an acute, short-term disease, while hepatitis B, C, and D are most likely to become ongoing and chronic. Hepatitis E is usually acute but can be particularly dangerous in pregnant women.
#1. Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is caused by an infection with the hepatitis A virus. This type of hepatitis is most commonly transmitted by consuming food or water contaminated by faeces from an infected person.
- Hepatitis A usually doesn’t require treatment because it’s a short-term illness.
- Bed rest may be recommended if symptoms cause a great deal of discomfort.
- In case you are experiencing vomiting or diarrhoea, follow your doctor’s orders for hydration and nutrition.
The hepatitis A vaccine is available to prevent this infection. For most children, it is done between ages 12 and 18 months. It’s a series of two vaccines. Vaccination for hepatitis A is also available for adults and can be combined with the hepatitis B vaccine.
#2. Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with an infected person’s body fluids, such as blood, private part secretions, containing the virus. Sexual intercourse, sharing razors or sharp objects with an infected person increases your risk of getting infected with the hepatitis B virus.
Hepatitis B can be prevented with vaccination. The vaccination is recommended for all newborns. The series of three vaccines are typically completed over the first six months of childhood. The vaccine is also recommended for all healthcare, emergency responders and medical personnel.
- Acute hepatitis B doesn’t require specific treatment.
- Chronic hepatitis B is treated with antiviral medications.
- Treatment must be continued for several months or years.
- Requires regular medical evaluations and monitoring.
#3. Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C comes from the hepatitis C virus. Hepatitis C is also transmitted through direct contact with infected body fluids, typically through sharing of sharp object and sexual contact. It is said that approximately 3.9 million Americans are currently living with a chronic form of this infection. It is one of the most common blood-borne viral infections in the United States.
- Can be treated by the combination of antiviral medications and therapies.
- Further testing to determine the best form of treatment.
- Patients may require liver transplant in acute cases
Currently, there is no vaccination for hepatitis C.
#4. Hepatitis D
Hepatitis D is a serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis D virus. It is contracted through direct contact with infected blood. It is a rare form of hepatitis that only occurs in conjunction with hepatitis B infection.
- No antiviral medications exist for the treatment of hepatitis D at this time.
Hepatitis D can be prevented by getting the vaccination for hepatitis B, as infection with hepatitis B is necessary for hepatitis D to develop.
#5. Hepatitis E
Hepatitis E is a waterborne disease caused by the hepatitis E virus. It is mainly found in areas with poor sanitation and typically results from ingesting faeces that contaminates the water supply.
- Currently, no specific medical therapies are available to treat hepatitis E.
- Because the infection is often acute, it typically resolves on its own.
- People with this type of infection are often advised to get adequate rest, drink plenty of fluids, get enough nutrients, and avoid alcohol.
- However, pregnant women who develop this infection require close monitoring and care.
Causes of non-infectious hepatitis
#1. Alcohol and other toxins
Excessive alcohol consumption can cause severe liver damage and inflammation. This is sometimes referred to as alcoholic hepatitis. The alcohol directly injures the cells of your liver. Over time, it can cause permanent damage and lead to liver failure and cirrhosis, thickening and scarring of the liver. Other causes of hepatitis include overuse or overdose of medications and exposure to poisons.
#2. Autoimmune system response
In some cases, the immune system mistakes the liver as a harmful object and begins to attack it. It causes ongoing inflammation that can range from mild to severe, often hindering liver function. This condition is three times more common in women than in men.
Common symptoms of hepatitis
Chronic situations like hepatitis B and C may not show any symptoms in the beginning until the damages affect the liver function.
Signs and 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
Chronic hepatitis develops slowly, so these signs and symptoms may be too subtle to notice.
Tips to prevent hepatitis
Practicing good hygiene is one key way to avoid contracting hepatitis A and E. If you’re traveling to a developing country, you should avoid:
- local water
- raw or undercooked shellfish and oysters
- raw fruit and vegetables
Hepatitis B, C, and D contracted through contaminated blood can be prevented by:
- Not sharing drug needles
- Not sharing razors
- Not using someone else’s toothbrush
- Not touching spilled blood
Hepatitis B and C can also be contracted through sexual intercourse and intimate sexual contact. Practising safe sex by using condoms and dental dams can help decrease the risk of infection. You can find many options available for purchase online.