5 Types Of Hepatitis You Should Be Aware Of

Dr. Bhavani A

Hepatitis is the most common liver illnesses of all.

 Hepatitis has different types and each caused by a different factor. Hepatitis which is caused by infection can be prevented with good personal hygiene and good habits. Here’s looking at Hepatitis types and what causes them. 

Breaking down Hepatitis 

  • The term ‘Hepatitis’ refers to an inflammation in the liver, most commonly caused by a viral infection. This is known as ‘viral Hepatitis’ and there are five kinds TYPES of them. Other kinds of Hepatitis are caused due to a reaction to certain drugs or medicines, or a toxic build-up due to alcohol consumption. 
  • A third kind of Hepatitis, referred to as the ‘Autoimmune Hepatitis’ is a chronic condition that occurs when your body starts creating antibodies against your liver tissue. This dramatically affects liver functioning and may even lead to liver failure. At the very least, it prevents the synthesis of certain vitamins and blood proteins and a breakdown of carbohydrates and fats. 
  • Hepatitis caused by infection should resolve over time and can be prevented if the body is supplemented with the right diet, immunisation, and medication. However, it may progress to other conditions like liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.

The symptoms of Hepatitis 

Viral Hepatitis infections, particularly Hepatitis B and C, are infectious but do not show early symptoms. The first symptoms in any kind of Hepatitis, whether viral, autoimmune or toxin-related, are revealed when the disease causes a disruption in liver function. Acute Hepatitis may show symptoms much quicker. These are: 

  • Fever 
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Nausea and loss of appetite 
  • Fatigue 
  • Fever and cold 
  • Change in colour of urine and stool 
  • Yellow skin and eyes, caused by jaundice 

Chronic Hepatitis progresses more slowly, and the signs of the disease are subtle at first which later manifest as cirrhosis and liver failure. 

The various Hepatitis types

Viral Hepatitis types 

Modern science has identified five main types of viral Hepatitis – Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. Each is caused by a different virus. Of these, Hepatitis A is short term but quite acute, while the others are long term and may become chronic over time. Hepatitis E can become acute and dangerous to those with existing autoimmune disorders, pregnant women or those taking antibiotic medication for cancer and HIV, among others. 

* Hepatitis A: The Hepatitis A Virus (HAV) causes this type, and it most commonly occurs after you consume food or water contaminated with faecal matter from a person carrying HAV or suffering from Hepatitis A. 

* Hepatitis B: It occurs via sexual contact with a person infected with the Hepatitis B Virus (HBV). Apart from transfer via semen, blood or vaginal secretions, you can contract it through shared items like razors, injection syringes, and swabs. 

* Hepatitis C: The Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) causes this type of Hepatitis, most commonly through the exchange of bodily fluids during sex, or through injection use. It is a common blood infection that is known to become chronic. 

* Hepatitis D: The Hepatitis D Virus (HDV) is contracted through infected blood (the most common routes are sexual intercourse and blood transfusion), and it often causes serious liver disease. It occurs among those who carry the HBV, without which it cannot multiply. 

* Hepatitis E: The Hepatitis E Virus (HEV) IS A waterborne disease. It is seen in people who live in areas of poor drainage and sanitation. The HEV is commonly carried via faecal matter in the water supply. 

Non-infectious Hepatitis types

* Toxin-related Hepatitis: This Hepatitis can cause severe liver inflammation and irreversible damage, most commonly brought on by excessive alcohol intake. The alcohol attacks the liver cells and slows down their repair process. Over time, the liver develops fibrosis (thickening and scarring) or cirrhosis. Other toxins that cause this kind of Hepatitis come from certain medication or chemicals found in drugs. 

* Autoimmune Hepatitis: This type of Hepatitis is a relatively rare one, brought on by the immune system attacking the liver. The liver cells start to break down and die, and this causes mild to severe inflammation as well as complete liver function failure. 

How Hepatitis is diagnosed and treated 

Your doctor will conduct a physical exam and a few blood tests to determine the Hepatitis types and its extent. The physical exam commonly includes pressing down gently on the abdominal area to check for pain and/or noting if the liver appears enlarged or tender and looking for signs of jaundice. Meanwhile, liver enzyme tests determine the working of the liver, and blood tests check the presence of viral Hepatitis infections. 

In some cases, the doctor may recommend a pelvic ultrasound or liver biopsy to probe the extent of the problem. 

Vaccines are prescribed for Hepatitis A, B, and C, but there are no vaccines against the HDV and HEV. Meanwhile, immune suppressants and corticosteroids are used to treat autoimmune Hepatitis.E

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