Definition: Defining the Meaning of Hepatitis
Hepatitis (plural: hepatitides) is a medical condition defined by the inflammation of the liver and characterized by the presence of inflammatory cells in the tissue of the organ. Hepatitis may occur with limited or no symptoms, but often leads to yellow discoloration of the skin, mucus membranes, and conjunctivae, poor appetite and malaise. Hepatitis is acute when it lasts less than six months and chronic when it persists longer. The condition can be self-limiting (healing on its own) or can progress to fibrosis (scarring) and cirrhosis.
Hepatitis implies injury to liver characterized by presence of inflammatory cells in the liver tissue. Hepatitis is is considered acute when it lasts less than 6 months and chronic when it lasts longer.
Acute Hepatitis - Varies widely from mild symptoms requiring no treatment to fulminant hepatic failure needing liver transplantation.
Chronic Hepatitis - Patients will remain asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, abnormal blood tests being the only manifestation.
Features may be related to extent of liver damage or the cause of hepatitis. Many experience return of symptoms related to acute hepatitis. Jaundice can be a late feature and may indicate extensive damage.
A highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV).
Although not usually as serious as other types of viral hepatitis, hepatitis A causes inflammation that affects your liver's ability to function. This is significant because the liver performs hundreds of tasks that are essential for health and life.
You're most likely to contract hepatitis A from contaminated food or water or from close contact with someone who's already infected "even if that person doesn't appear sick. Some people who are infected never develop signs and symptoms, but others may feel as if they have a severe flu.
Mild cases of hepatitis A don't require treatment, and most people who are infected recover completely with no permanent liver damage. Unlike hepatitis B and C, hepatitis A doesn't develop into chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis "both potentially fatal conditions.
Following good hygiene practices - including washing your hands often "is one of the best ways to protect against hepatitis A. Effective vaccines are available for people who are most at risk.
- Symptoms of hepatitis A infection can be mistaken for influenza.
- Symptoms typically appear 2 to 6 weeks after the initial infection.
Symptoms can return over the following 6 - 9 months and include:
- Abdominal pain
- Appetite loss
- Jaundice, a yellowing of the skin and/or yellow eyes
- Sharp pains in the right-upper quadrant of the abdomen
- Weight loss
Hepatitis B (HBV) is a serious liver infection
For some people, the infection becomes chronic, leading to liver failure, liver cancer or cirrhosis - a condition that causes permanent scarring of the liver. It is a DNA virus and one of many unrelated viruses that cause viral hepatitis.
The hepatitis B virus is transmitted in the blood and body fluids of someone who is infected "the same way the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS, spreads. Yet hepatitis B is nearly 100 times as infectious as HIV.
Transmission results from exposure to infectious blood or body fluids containing blood. Possible forms of transmission include (but are not limited to) unprotected sexual contact, blood transfusions, re-use of contaminated needles & syringes, and vertical transmission from mother to child during childbirth.
The hepatitis B virus primarily interferes with the functions of the liver by replicating in liver cells, known as hepatocytes. During HBV infection, the host immune response causes both hepatocellular damage and viral clearance.
Acute infection with hepatitis B virus is associated with acute viral hepatitis - an illness that begins with general ill-health, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, body aches, mild fever, dark urine, and then progresses to development of jaundice. It has been noted that itchy skin has been an indication as a possible symptom of all hepatitis virus types. The illness lasts for a few weeks and then gradually improves in most affected people.
You're especially at risk if you're an intravenous (IV) drug user who shares needles or other paraphernalia, have unprotected sexual contact with an infected partner, or were born in or travel to parts of the world where hepatitis B is widespread. In addition, women with HBV can pass the infection to their babies during childbirth.
Most people infected as adults recover fully from hepatitis B, even if their signs and symptoms are severe. Infants and children are much more likely to develop a chronic infection.
More than 1.25 million Americans are chronically infected with the virus and as many as 5,000 die each year of a hepatitis-B-related illness. Although no cure exists for hepatitis B, a vaccine can prevent the disease. If you're already infected, taking certain precautions can help prevent HBV from spreading to others. Several vaccines have been developed for the prevention of hepatitis B virus infection.
This disease, hepatitis C has been considered by many specialists to be an epidemic. It is also known as a silent illness, because you can get hepatitis C for many years and not even know that. Studies have also shown that almost a third of chronic hepatitis C patients will, at some point, suffer from symptoms that may threaten their lives.
Hepatitis C can be developed by infection with the hepatitis C virus, which at first was related to intravenous drugs or blood transfusions. Many years after the hepatitis C affected people, its extent was know for a fact. That happened when the first blood test for detecting the hepatitis C virus was available. Many studies have shown that in the first years of hepatitis C, more than a third of the patients developed cirrhosis and more than half even liver cancer. Hepatitis C is the main reason for liver transplants in many countries worldwide.
As many as 300 million of the world' s population suffer from hepatitis C nowadays. In the eastern part of Europe the number of people affected by hepatitis C seems to be more larger than of those that live in the western part of the continent. The hepatitis C virus is responsible for almost a half of cases of cirrhosis that end in the loss of the patient' s life and more than 70 percent of people suffering from chronic hepatitis. Studies have shown that for one person that has AIDS, there are almost five people infected with the hepatitis C virus.
In the years to come, hepatitis C will become a major health problem. It is estimated that almost 60 percent of patients who will suffer from hepatitis C virus will develop cirrhosis and the rate of deaths because of hepatitis will almost triple its number.
Nowadays, the treatment for hepatitis C is a pegylated interferon therapy. This hepatitis C treatment works in almost half of the patients.
Natural remedies for hepatitis C exist, but many of them do not work.
The hepatitis C natural remedies that are more reliable are those that focus on the protection of your liver and those that try to keep your immune system healthy. However, there does not exist a natural cure of the hepatitis C virus. Many of the natural remedies against hepatitis C virus are just fakes, sold by charlatans.
Doctors have shown that if taking natural hepatitis C remedies you might live a long life, but there is absolutely no natural cure for hepatitis C virus.
NEW: The drug viramidine, which is a prodrug of ribavirin which has better targeting for the liver, and therefore may be more effective against hepatitis C for a given tolerated dose, is in phase III experimental trials against hepatitis C. It will be used in conjunction with interferon, in the same manner as ribavirin.
Caused by hepatitis delta agent which is considered a subviral satellite as it can only propagate in the presence of the Hepatitis B virus.
Hepatitis D, sometimes called hep D or HDV, is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis D virus (HDV), a defective virus that needs the hepatitis B virus to exist. HDV causes a unique infection that requires the assistance of viral particles from hepatitis B virus (HBV) to replicate and infect other hepatocytes.
HDV infection occurs more commonly among adults than children and is observed more commonly among patients with a history of intravenous drug use. Hepatitis D requires the presence of the hepatitis B virus (HBV) to reproduce it. You can acquire hepatitis D infection the same time as you are infected with hepatitis B. Hepatitis D is spread through anyone coming into contact with infected blood, contaminated needles or by having unprotected sex with a hepatitis D infected person.
About 300 million persons worldwide carry HBV. Of them, at least 5% probably also have delta hepatitis. Patients in the acute stage should rest in bed as needed, eat a balanced diet, and avoid alcohol.
Symptoms similar to hepatitis A. It can take a fulminant course in some patients, particularly pregnant women.
It is spread by fecal contaminated water within endemic areas. The largest outbreak was reported in northeast China between 1986 and 1988.
Hepatitis E predominantly affects those aged 15 to 40 years of age. More prevalent in the Indian subcontinent. Hepatitis E does not occur often in the USA. The virus has a 15 to 60 day incubation period and infected persons may be contagious for up to two weeks after symptoms first appear. The symptoms are the same as for HBV with jaundice and flu-like aches and pains.
Hepatitis F virus
A hypothetical virus linked to hepatitis. However, an infection found in the Far East has shown that a new virus which is neither hepatitis B or C. The virus called HAF consists of double-stranded DNA and is substantially different from HAV and HEV, both of which are RNA based.
Hepatitis G or GBV-C
First described early in 1996 Hepatitis G is another potential viral cause of hepatitis. The Hepatitis G virus, has been identified and is probably spread by blood and sexual contact.
There is doubt about whether it causes hepatitis or is just associated with hepatitis, as it does not appear to replicate primarily in the liver. It is now classified as GBV-C. Often patients with hepatitis G are infected at the same time by the hepatitis B or C virus, or both.
There is no specific treatment for any form of acute hepatitis. Patients should rest in bed as needed, avoid alcohol, and be sure to eat a balanced diet.
Facts: Hepatitis Symptoms &
Some people who have hepatitis have no symptoms. Others may have;
- Stomach pain
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Jaundice, yellowing of skin and eyes
- Dark-colored urine and pale bowel movements
Viral hepatitis is the most common cause of hepatitis worldwide. The most common causes of viral hepatitis are the five unrelated hepatotropic viruses hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, hepatitis D (which requires hepatitis B to cause disease), and hepatitis E. Worldwide, sexually transmitted hepatitis viruses are the most common cause of the condition. The presence of jaundice indicates advanced liver damage. On physical examination there may be enlargement of the liver.
Hepatitis B (World)
- 400 million people are chronically infected.
- 10-30 million will become infected each year.
- 2 billion people have been infected (1 out of 3 people).
- Approximately 2 people die each minute from hepatitis B.
- An estimated 1 million people die each year from hepatitis B and its complications.
Hepatitis B (United States)
- More than one million people are chronically infected .
- Up to 40,000 new people will become infected each year.
- 12 million Americans have been infected (1 out of 20 people).
- Approximately 1 health care worker dies each day from hepatitis B.
- 5,000 people will die each year from hepatitis B and its complications.
Hepatitis C infection is the most common chronic blood borne infection in the U.S. Approximately 4.1 million persons, or 1.6% of the total U.S. population, are infected with hepatitis C.
Of persons infected with hepatitis C
- 85% will remain infected for life; of those:
- 60 - 70% will develop chronic liver disease
- 10 - 20% will develop cirrhosis (scarring of the liver)
- 1 - 5% will develop liver cancer