Hepatitis implies injury to the liver marked by the presence of inflammatory cells in the liver tissue. The condition can be self-limiting, healing on its own, or can progress to scarring of the liver tissue. Hepatitis is acute when it lasts not more than 6 months & chronic when it persists longer.
What are the causes of hepatitis?
A group of viruses known as the hepatitis virus causes the most cases of liver damage worldwide. The virus most commonly spreads when you eat or drink something contaminated with fecal matter, even just tiny amounts.
Symptoms of hepatitis:
Initial features are of nonspecific flu-like symptoms, commonly seen in almost all acute viral infections & may include malaise (feverish feeling), muscle & joint aches, fever, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea & headache.
More specific symptoms, which can be found in acute hepatitis from any cause, are:
- Profound loss of appetite
- Aversion to smoking among smokers
- Dark urine
- Yellowing of the eyes & skin (i.e., jaundice)
- Abdominal discomfort.
Hepatitis affects the liver in most cases but can also affect other organs like the brain, if prolonged.
There are no medications used to treat hepatitis A due to the fact that it is a short-term infection that goes away on its own.
Hepatitis B may sometimes be treated using certain medications. There are six FDA-approved treatment options available for individuals with a chronic hepatitis B infection. These are alpha-interferon, pegylated interferon adefovir, entecavir, telbivudine & lamivudine. About 65% of patients on treatment achieve a sustained response.