What is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis is basically liver inflammation. Hepatitides may be self healing or it can lead to liver scarring or cirrhosis. It can exist without any symptoms or present with severe warning signs.
Causes of Hepatitides
There are also several different causes of hepatitis besides the aforementioned virus induced hepatitides. Other viruses that can cause hepatitis include herpes, Epstein-Barr, Cytomegalovirus, Yellow Fever and several strains of the adenovirus. Hepatitis can also be caused by toxoplasmosis, leptospirosis, rocky mountain spotted fever, or Q fever. Excessive alcohol intake as seen in alcoholics can cause hepatitis. Toxins such as carbon tetrachloride or amanita toxin from mushrooms can lead to hepatitis. Certain drugs such as amoxycillin, minocycline and antituberculosis medications can also result in hepatitis. Auto immune diseases, ischemic hepatitis, and metabolic diseases can all contribute to this disease.
Medication for Hepatitides
Baraclude is used to treat Hepatitis B and helps stop liver damage. Both hepatitis B & C may be treated with a chemotherapeutic drug called Interferon. It helps to destroy the viruses. Lamivudine prevents the Hepatitis B virus from multiplying. Treatment with this drug and Interferon can last as much as a year. Pegasys is a type of interferon that is not dosed as often as the typical Interferon drug. Rebetron is used to help suppress the virus but must be used with Interferon in Hepatitis C. Ribavirin is used in conjunction with Pegasys to treat Hepatitis C.
Prevention of Hepatitides
To prevent hepatitis especially in foreign countries be sure to wash hands thoroughly after using the bathroom or handling raw foodstuffs. Only eat food that has just been cooked. Only drink bottled water and avoid raw vegetables and fruits that cannot be peeled. A hepatitis A vaccine will help prevent the disease when traveling abroad. Prevent Hepatitis B by practicing safe sex. In addition do not share items that may be contaminated with someone else s blood including needles, toothbrushes, razors or manicure items. Limit alcohol intake. Pay attention to dangerous or lethal chemicals and only use as directed.
Risk Factors of Getting Hepatitides
There are several different risk factors for developing hepatitis:
- Healthcare workers are at risk
- Promiscuous and unprotected sex can increase the risk of getting hepatitis.
- Contaminated food and water may lead to Hepatitis A
- Drug users who share needles can develop hepatitis.
- Individuals with autoimmune disease are at risk for hepatitis
- Alcoholics may get hepatitis
- Obesity with hypertension can also lead to hepatitis.
Symptoms of Hepatitides
There are several different hepatitis symptoms that can be confused with more common ailments such as the flu. These include fever, joint and muscle pain, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea and fatigue. When these symptoms are accompanied by a painful abdomen then this could indicate a hepatitis infection. As the hepatitides get worse jaundice can set in. The skin, whites of eyes and the mucous membranes turn yellow. The urine is usually quite dark and the stool is a light color indicating pus. Hepatitis can also cause hives and itching as well as headache, dizziness, or problems with circulation.
Treatment of Hepatitides
Treatment for hepatitis depends on the type a patient has. Hepatitis B individuals must rest and eat a diet high in proteins and carbohydrates to help repair the liver. Hepatitis C can be treated with interferon alfa-2b also known as Intron A. Hepatitides that are not viral can be treated by removing the offending agent such as alcohol or drugs. Steroids may be used to treat some forms of hepatitis.
Types of Hepatitides
There are 5 basic types of hepatitides. Each is the result of a different type of virus.
- Hepatitis A-involves infection with the HAV virus found in contaminated food and water or contracted during oral-anal sexual contact. This type of hepatitis can be cured.
- Hepatitis B is the result of infection by the HBV virus and is spread by intermingling of bodily fluids. The type of hepatitis can lead to severe liver damage including cancer.
- Hepatitis C comes from infection with the HCV virus. It is also spread by sharing bodily fluids. Hepatitis C does cause severe liver damage and individuals develop a chronic infection. This type of hepatitis leads to cirrhosis.
- Hepatitis D is caused by infection of the HDV virus. This type of hepatitides can only occur if the patient is already infected with Hepatitis B. It is usually spread through sharing needles or having unprotected sex with an infected person.
- Hepatitis E is caused by drinking water infected with the virus HEV. This version of hepatitides rarely occurs in the United States. The liver can swell but there is usually no chronic or long term damage.