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Hepatitis refers to swelling or inflammation of the liver caused by the hepatitis virus. If not taken proper care of, it may lead to liver cancer or cirrhosis. There are different types of this condition, the most common ones being Hepatitis A, B, and C  Currently in India, about 40 million people are infected with Hepatitis B, whereas about 6 to 12 million people are infected with Hepatitis C .
There will be a 90% reduction in the number of new chronic viral Hepatitis B and C infections by 2030 . In most cases, it is easily curable by following some preventive measures, but in some critical cases, the condition might turn out to be chronic.
Here’s a quick glance at the symptoms, causes, complications and treatment of hepatitis. Take a look:
|Symptoms||Fatigue, vomiting, nausea, jaundice, abdominal pain, etc.|
|Complications||Liver failure, liver cancer, cirrhosis (scarring of the liver)|
|Causes||Contaminated blood transfusion, contact with infected people, unprotected sex with infected people, contact with water or food that is contaminated, etc.|
|Onset||After infection, it usually takes 2 to 7 weeks for symptoms to develop. Symptoms usually last for less than 2 months, though for some it can be as long as 6 months.|
|Diagnosis||Through blood test, physical examination, liver biopsy, asking about symptoms, imaging tests like CT scan, MRI or ultrasound|
|Prevention||Practise good hygiene, use protection during sex, don’t share needles for taking drugs, and don’t use any personal items of infected persons.|
|Medication||entecavir (Baraclude), tenofovir (Viread), adefovir (Hepsera), lamivudine (Epivir) and telbivudine.|
Here’s a detailed overview of hepatitis – its symptoms, types, diagnosis, treatment and complications. Read on!
Some common symptoms of hepatitis include :
Many people who are infected with hepatitis do not show any symptoms, and this is the reason they fail to understand that they are infected. Due to acute infection, if the symptoms occur, then it might appear anytime from 2 weeks to 3 months after exposure.
Some medications, toxins, excess alcohol intake and various other medical conditions can be the reason behind Hepatitis, but often it is caused by a virus .
Take a look at some causes of Hepatitis:
Hepatitis A is mostly transmitted through consuming contaminated food or water and is commonly found in the faeces of infected people . This can even transmit through unwashed or dirty hands when an infected person comes in contact with the other one or through close contact during intercourse .
Hepatitis B is usually transmitted through exposure to infectious body fluids like semen, blood and others. It might also get transmitted through transfusions of HBV-contaminated injections during medical procedures or through HBV-contaminated blood and blood products.
In fact, HBV can be transmitted at the time of birth from infected mothers to infants or during early childhood from an infected family member to an infant .
Similar to Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C is spread through exposure and contact with an infected person’s blood or other body fluids. Even it can be spread through sex, but rarely.
HDV infections occur only in those who are already infected with HBV. Moreover, it is spread and transmitted by coming in contact with HDV-contaminated dirty needles, HDV-infected blood and practising unprotected sex with an HDV-infected person.
Similar to Hepatitis A, this issue is transmitted mostly through contaminated food and water. However, it could also be spread through oral-anal contact.
Scientists have identified mainly 5 types of hepatitis viruses which are referred to as Type A, B, C, D and E. While all these types cause liver diseases, they differ in various ways .
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused due to HAV virus. It is usually a food-borne illness which is easily transmittable, especially in children . Most of the people residing in areas with poor sanitation get infected with this virus. However, its infections are not that severe . The incubation period of Hepatitis A is commonly 14-28 days .
Hepatitis B is a leading cause of liver cancer. It can cause a serious infection that can lead to inflamed liver and liver damage or might also result in cancer. Some people who fail to eliminate this virus from their body make this infection chronic. About 6%-10% of the adults and older children who get infected with HBV develop chronic Hepatitis B .
Hepatitis C is recognised as the most deadly type of Hepatitis, and it kills more people than those affected with other infectious diseases.
Commonly, HDV infection occurs more among adults than children and especially among patients who have a history of intravenous drug use. The HDV or Hepatitis D virus is an RNA virus that is structurally quite different from that of Hepatitis A, B or C.
HDV generates a unique infection that needs the assistance of viral particles from HBV to replicate and infect other hepatocytes .
Hepatitis E is also known as enteric Hepatitis (where enteric means intestine-related). It is more or less similar to Hepatitis A as it is spread and transmitted through the oral-faecal route. Most patients who get infected with this virus recover completely, but it is most serious in women during pregnancy .
Every time when you have abdominal pain or feel fatigued, there is no need to panic. But if any of the symptoms stated above stay for a long time, then it’s time to call for a doctor.
At the very first stage, one doesn’t need to visit any specialist; it can be easily diagnosed and treated by either a nurse practitioner or a primary care doctor. But if the hepatitis case is unusual or too complicated, then it needs to be treated by a specialist or a physician like a gastroenterologist or a hepatologist.
Before the treatment starts, it is crucial to diagnose Hepatitis for the exact cause.
This comprehensive examination begins with diagnosing the symptoms and medical history of the patients. Here the patients are asked about their sexual activity, medications, recent travels, intravenous drug usage and exposure to water that has been contaminated by sewage .
This is a general diagnostic examination conducted for all types of Hepatitis.
Blood tests help in the detection of the virus through the presence of certain antibodies in your blood. Through these diagnostic blood tests, the things that doctors take into consideration are as follows:
Hepatitis A, B and E can be diagnosed using these blood tests.
This diagnostic test is extensively used for determining if the patient has Hepatitis B. During this hepatitis test procedure, the liver tissue is being removed and sent to the pathological laboratory for analysing the presence of scar tissue in it. This helps in determining how the inflammation has affected the liver.
This hepatitis test is essential if the symptoms are found to be atypical, other tests are found to be atypical, or if the doctor finds any evidence of chronic liver disease .
Apart from this, the doctors sometimes also recommend the patients for imaging tests like CT scans, ultrasound or MRI .
The prognosis of Hepatitis A patients is outstanding with a self-limiting course. In many cases, people who are infected with this virus fully recover and even remain immune from further infections. About 85% of people recover within three months, and there are no long-term health implications. However, in some critical cases, it can be life-threatening  .
The effect of Hepatitis B ranges from a mild illness that lasts for a few weeks to a serious chronic condition. Most adults who get infected with Hepatitis B develop chronic disease, while most of the unimmunised infants who get infected with Hepatitis B might develop chronic infection . In case the virus is carried for so long, it may lead to liver cancer, liver damage and cirrhosis. Even Hepatitis C can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer if carried out in the long term .
Hepatitis D usually infects people who are already infected with Hepatitis B, while the prognosis of Hepatitis E is more or less similar to Hepatitis A. But there is no vaccine to cure Hepatitis E.
Usually, there is no cure for Hepatitis once it occurs. But there are some treatments available that focus on reversing the already existing damage being caused to the liver, providing relief from the symptoms and preventing further damage to the liver. These treatments also depend on whether the Hepatitis is acute or chronic.
With time, most acute hepatitis infections will solve. While in the case of autoimmune Hepatitis, certain medications are used to keep in check the overactive immune system and to prevent any further attacks on the liver .
Some other possible hepatitis medications and treatments also include surgery and other medical procedures. In case chronic Hepatitis leads to liver cancer or liver failure, then the doctor might recommend a liver transplant .
Hepatitis prevention is essentially important as it is highly contagious, though its transmission methods might vary. In order to prevent hepatitis infection, children or anyone who is still not vaccinated should be vaccinated against Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B . Vaccination offers long-term protection from these infections.
In case of vaccination, the doctor might recommend you an injection of immune globulin. Hepatitis A vaccination is inclusive of two injections administered six months apart, while Hepatitis B vaccination is inclusive of three injections. After the first injection, the second and the third one are administered after one and six months, respectively . Also, there are no vaccinations for Hepatitis types C, D and E .
Generally, acute Hepatitis does not lead to any long-term concerns. But if it stays for long, then it might progress or get complicated leading to serious conditions including fibrosis, cirrhosis, cancer, and failure of the liver.
The cost of treating Hepatitis in India may be affordable for many, but severe conditions might call for a liver transplant which is a costly affair. The prices will vary across medical facilities and locations in the country.
There has been a significant upsurge seen in the number of people who get affected with Hepatitis not only in India but globally. India, being one of the most populous countries, has also contributed to this disease. Although the frequency rate is similar to that of malaria, HIV and other diseases, its prevention and control need more attention.
Treating Hepatitis can be expensive if it leads to a chronic condition as it requires severe medical conditions. But you can easily reduce your financial burden by taking the help of Navi Health Insurance. They provide financial assistance in case of any medical emergency. With unlimited online consultations, 10,000+ network hospitals and low premiums starting at just Rs. 234 per month! Get a quote now!
Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, consult your doctor to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.
Acute viral Hepatitis could go away on its own, but we recommend consulting a licensed physician immediately. Hepatitis A causes only acute infection, while Hepatitis B and C often cause lifelong or chronic infections.
If an individual is suffering from chronic Hepatitis C, it causes liver scarring and inflammation, which further leads to moderate liver damage or fibrosis and severe liver damage or cirrhosis. Liver damage happens slowly and might take over 20 to 30 years.
Both the varieties of Hepatitis A and E are spread through contaminated food, water and human waste. Some other things that facilitate the transmission of the Hepatitis virus are poor personal hygiene, poor sanitation, intimate or sexual contact with the infected ones, etc.
People having Blood group A are more prone to getting Hepatitis B.
Individuals with high-risk sexual behaviour or involvement in sexual activities with multiple partners are most likely to have this sexually transmitted disease. Apart from this, people who share their razors, toothbrushes or any other personal items with anyone who is HCV-infected are at high risk. Also, people who snort any drugs using shared equipment might also get Hepatitis.
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