Hepatitis refers to an inflammatory condition of the liver. It’s commonly caused by a viral infection, but there are other possible causes of hepatitis. Each has different hepatitis symptoms and treatments.
There are different types and causes, but the symptoms can be similar. They 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
Types of hepatitis
A. Viral Hepatitis (Infectious)
Viral infections of the liver are classified alphabetically as hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. A different virus is responsible for each type of virally transmitted hepatitis.
1. Hepatitis A
It is highly contagious and can spread from person to person mainly through food and water or from contact with an infected person.
It typically causes only a mild illness, and many people who are infected may never realize they’re sick at all.
2. Hepatitis B
This is a serious liver infection that’s easily preventable by a vaccine. It is transmitted through sexual contact, contact with contaminated blood (for example, through shared needles used for illicit, intravenous drugs), and from mother to child.
However, is not spread through food, water, or casual contact.
3. Hepatitis C
It can either be acute and chronic, ranging in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness. The virus is spread by contact with contaminated blood e.g. from sharing needles or from unsterilized tattoo equipment.
It can also be spread from mother to baby through pregnancy, labour, or breastfeeding. Most infected people have no symptoms.
4. Hepatitis D
Hepatitis D only occurs amongst people who are already infected with the Hepatitis B virus.
It is mainly spread through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person including from mother to baby through pregnancy, labour or breastfeeding.
5. Hepatitis E
The hepatitis E virus is mainly transmitted through drinking water contaminated with feacal matter or through the consumption of uncooked or undercooked meat.
Hepatitis E is usually acute but can be particularly dangerous in pregnant women. Outbreaks can be epidemic and individual.
B. Non-Infectious Hepatitis
Toxic hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver caused by exposure to chemicals or solvents, certain medications, drugs, or from drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
Sometimes, your immune system might mistake your liver as a harmful object and begins to attack it. It causes ongoing inflammation that can range from mild to severe. This often hinders your liver’s function.
Autoimmune hepatitis can may worsen over time if not treated leading to cirrhosis and liver failure.
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