This article has been authored by Dr. Sanjay Khanna, who is a Senior Consultant – Gastroenterology Department, at Jaypee Hospital Noida. He is a DNB Gastroenterologist & holds expertise in Luminal Gastroenterology, Therapeutic Endoscopy especially ERCP / EUS & Hepatology. To know more about Dr. Sanjay Khanna or book an appointment, please call 0120 – 412 2222
“There exist five main types of hepatitis caused by virus: type A, B, C, D, and E. Hepatitis A and E spread through contaminated food and water. Hepatitis B is either sexually transmitted or may pass from mother to baby during pregnancy or birth. Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C commonly spread through infected blood. Hepatitis D is a special case and infects people already infected with Hepatitis B.”
Inflammation of the liver is referred to as Hepatitis. The most common cause for hepatitis worldwide is viral infection. Other causes include certain medications or heavy alcohol consumption, toxins, autoimmune disease or maybe a non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
It is possible to have hepatitis and not experience any symptoms but in some cases there are symptoms like flu which are not diagnosed in initial stage. The most common symptoms of hepatitis are:
- Fatigue and dizziness
- Loss of appetite
- Belly ache
- Mild fever
- Muscle or joint aches
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weight loss
- Dark urine and pale stools
In the next stage the symptoms become severe and there could be internal bleeding or even coma. If not treated it can lead to scarring of the liver known as cirrhosis.
There are different ways to diagnose Hepatitis which are Physical examination, Liver function tests, Blood tests, Ultrasound and Biopsy.
Prevention & Treatment
Hepatitis A – Usually is cured through sufficient rest and medication for hydration and nutrition. Vaccination is available to prevent this infection. It is a series of two vaccines and can be used for children in the age of 12-18. For adults, this vaccine comes in combination with vaccine for Hepatitis B.
Hepatitis B – Acute level does not require a particular treatment but if the Hepatitis is chronic it takes several months or even years to get cured. Antiviral medications are given to patients and the doctors monitor the response to the virus. Hepatitis B can be prevented with vaccination and these are recommended for all newborns and the healthcare & medical industry practitioners.
Hepatitis C – Combination of antiviral drugs are used to cure Hepatitis C. When this turns chronic and if the liver is severely scarred, the final option could be liver transplant. Currently, there is no vaccination for Hepatitis C.
Hepatitis D – There is no antiviral medicine for this type. Certain drugs help curb it but not cure it. This type occurs only to people who have had Hepatitis B.
Hepatitis E – This infection is acute and mostly resolves on its own. There is no specific antiviral drug to treat this.
Practicing good hygiene is crucial to avoid hepatitis A and E. This disease spreads through infected water and hence always prefer boiled and filtered water. Avoid drinking water from unhygienic places and also bottled water if you doubt the source of water. Hepatitis B, C, and D spread through contaminated blood. So make sure you do not share needles, razors and toothbrush or come in direct contact with spilled blood. These spread though intimate sexual contact too and hence it is always recommended to practice protected safe sex using condoms. Excessive alcohol consumption is another cause of Hepatitis or liver damage. Restrict this and consume within limits.