How Serious Is It
- People can be sick for a few weeks to a few months
- Most recover with no lasting liver damage
- Although very rare, death can occur
- 15%25% of chronically infected people develop chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis, liver failure, or liver cancer
- More than 50% of people who get infected with the hepatitis C virus develop a chronic infection
- 5%-25% of people with chronic hepatitis C develop cirrhosis over 1020 years
Hepatitis And The Liver
Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. The liver is important for a range of functions in the body. These include regulating metabolism, making proteins, storing vitamins and iron, removing toxins and producing bile.
If the liver doesnt work properly, it can cause serious illness or sometimes even death.
Chronic hepatitis means ongoing inflammation of the liver, irrespective of the underlying cause.
Types Of Hepatitis: Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is the mildest of this group of viral infections. Its transmitted through the fecal-oral route. In other words, an infected person expels it through their feces, contaminates food or water that another person eats or drinks, and the virus finds a new host.
Hepatitis A patients suffer from gastroenteritis symptoms with liver involvement. Thus, fever, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting appear.
As the liver is inflamed, the bile stagnates and doesnt circulate. As a result, the skin turns yellowish . This occurs because bilirubin impregnates the skin and mucous membranes, which is why the whites of the eyes also turn yellow. Excess bilirubin is eliminated through the urine, which also becomes darker.
The usual symptoms last about 15 days. Although the disease can last for a month or more, this isnt common. Patients tend to recover without any major problems and, if there was no dehydration, they wont suffer from any lasting effects.
The most dangerous symptom is fluid loss, especially in young children. Due to how fast it spreads, extreme precautionary measures should be taken when there are outbreaksin closed populations, such as schools.
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Why The Liver Matters
Your liver is an incredibly important organ that performs critical functions that affect your metabolism. It produces a substance known as bile, which aids in digestion.
Its also responsible for:
- Filtering toxins from your body
- Breaking down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins
- Activating enzymes essential to your bodys functions
- Excreting bilirubin, cholesterol, hormones, and drugs
When your liver is inflamed or starts to fail, it cant effectively do these or other essential jobs. As a result, you may experience fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and bloody vomit or stools. Liver failure is a medical emergency that requires immediate care.
Hepatitis: Prevention And Lifestyle
As with all diseases, lifestyle is of paramount importance in terms of prevention. It should be free of excesses and active, regulated by a healthy diet and reduced alcohol consumption.
However, when we talk about hep. A and B we are talking about diseases for which it is essential to get vaccinated, following the National Health Systems programme likewise, if you are planning to travel to areas considered at risk, you must follow the health protocols of that particular region.
Finally, tattoos and piercings performed in an unsafe environment pose a great risk. For this reason, it is essential to always turn to professionals who work in certified facilities where only appropriate instruments are used.
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Willowbrook State School Experiments
A New York University researcher named Saul Krugman continued this research into the 1950s and 1960s, most infamously with his experiments on mentally disabled children at the Willowbrook State School in New York, a crowded urban facility where hepatitis infections were highly endemic to the student body. Krugman injected students with gamma globulin, a type of antibody. After observing the temporary protection against infection this antibody provided, he then tried injected live hepatitis virus into students. Krugman also controversially took feces from infected students, blended it into milkshakes, and fed it to newly admitted children.
What Is Viral Hepatitis
Viral hepatitis is an inflammation of your liver that’s caused by a virus. There are five types, but the most common ones in the U.S. are hepatitis A, B, and C. All of them affect your liver. Some of the symptoms are similar, but they have different treatments.
Hepatitis A. This type won’t lead to long-term infection and usually doesn’t cause any complications. Your liver heals in about 2 months. You can prevent it with a vaccine.
Hepatitis B. Most people recover from this type in 6 months. Sometimes, though, it causes a long-term infection that could lead to liver damage. Once you’ve got the disease, you can spread the virus even if you don’t feel sick. You won’t catch it if you get a vaccine.
Hepatitis C. Many people with this type don’t have symptoms. About 80% of those with the disease get a long-term infection. It can sometimes lead to cirrhosis, a scarring of the liver. There’s no vaccine to prevent it.
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What Are Hepatitis B And Hepatitis C
Although hep A is a short-term illness that goes away completely, hepatitis B and hepatitis C can turn into serious long-term illnesses for some people. Teens and young adults are most at risk for getting these two viruses.
Hep B and C get passed from person to person the same ways that HIV does through direct contact with infected body fluids. Hepatitis B and C are even more easily passed in fluids and needles than HIV. This can happen through sexual contact and by sharing needles that have been contaminated with infected blood. Even when infected people don’t have any symptoms, they can still pass the disease on to others.
Sometimes mothers with hep B or C pass the virus along to their babies when they’re born. Hep B and C also can get passed in ways you might not expect such as getting a manicure or pedicure with unsterilized nail clippers or other dirty instruments. Getting a tattoo, if dirty needles are used, is another way someone can get hep B or C.
Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes
This article discusses hepatitis, which is a complex disease and requires an interprofessional approach from healthcare providers to tackle it. The article discusses strategies to prevent hepatitis through patient education and vaccination and the importance of closer monitoring for disease progression and complications. These strategies require significant interprofessional communication and care coordination by physicians, including primary care physicians and specialists, nurses, pharmacists, and other health professionals, to enhance patient-centered care. Nursing needs to work closely with the patient to ensure they understand their disease, are compliant with medications and vaccines, and note progress or lack thereof. Pharmacists are crucial to ensuring the proper medications at the correct dose are in the therapy regimen, and that there are no interactions. Any issues noted by any member of the interprofessional healthcare team need to be shared and charted, so everyone operates from the same data. These measures can help improve the outcomes and aid to patient safety and can also help enhance team performance.
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Different Types Of Hepatitis And Their Symptoms
In this article:
Hepatitis refers to inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis B and C can lead to chronic liver disease, whereas hepatitis C accounts for a larger proportion of disease in the United States, with approximately 2.4 million adults being infected with hepatitis C compared to 1.59 million infected with hepatitis B.
The incidence of cirrhosis in the affected groups is comparable. The risk of liver cancer is also similar in patients with chronic hepatitis B and C with cirrhosis.
What Is The Outlook For Hepatitis
Hepatitis A and E usually only cause short-term infections that your body can overcome. The others can also cause acute infections, but might also cause chronic infections. The chronic forms are more dangerous. Hepatitis non-E is usually acute, but can become chronic.
Most people recover fully from hepatitis even though it might take several months for the liver to heal. To help improve your health and to help speed up your recovery:
- Avoid alcohol.
- Practice good nutrition.
- If you feel sick, rest.
- Talk to your healthcare provider about your medicines, even over-the-counter drugs or vitamins and supplements, to know which ones you should take and which to avoid until you are recovered.
With hepatitis, your healthcare provider will also be looking for long-term damage to the liver in the forms of cirrhosis or liver failure. You may be asked to take other types of tests, such as liver function tests, imaging tests or possibly a liver biopsy.
If you have questions, new symptoms, or worsening of any existing symptoms, you should call the office of your healthcare provider.
In the U.S., A, B and C are the most common viral forms of hepatitis. It doesnt matter how you were infectedwhat matters is taking care of yourself once you have been diagnosed and taking care not to spread the infection to anyone else.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/06/2020.
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How Can We Avoid Contracting The Hepatitis Virus
Some types of hepatitis viruses can be life-threatening or difficult to treat and, therefore, it is advisable to take necessary preventive measures to reduce the risk of contracting the infection in the first place. These include the following:
- Maintaining good hygiene and washing hands after using the toilet can reduce the chances of contracting the hepatitis viruses A and E.
- Avoiding sharing needles, razors, tooth brushes and staying away from spilled blood can help in prevent the spreading of hepatitis viruses B, C and D.
- Avoiding sexual contact with infected persons or multiple partners can help reduce the risk of contracting hepatitis viruses B and C.
- Vaccinations may prevent the development of hepatitis virus A and B.
- Avoiding over-consumption or abuse of alcohol and other toxic substances.
- Eat food that is properly cooked or, if raw, thoroughly washed and cleaned and also drinking only boiled or purified water.
Can Hepatitis C Be Prevented
There is no vaccine for hepatitis C. But you can help protect yourself from hepatitis C infection by
- Not sharing drug needles or other drug materials
- Wearing gloves if you have to touch another person’s blood or open sores
- Making sure your tattoo artist or body piercer uses sterile tools and unopened ink
- Not sharing personal items such toothbrushes, razors, or nail clippers
- Using a latex condom during sex. If your or your partner is allergic to latex, you can use polyurethane condoms.
NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
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Types Of Hepatitis: Hepatitis D
The hepatitis delta virus , which is a satellite , causes this disease. Thus, to spread, the patient or host has to be infected with the hepatitis B virus.
Transmission can occur through blood or sexual contact. Also, an infected mother can transmit it to her child in the womb. Fortunately, the hepatitis B vaccine is effective in preventing the delta particle as well.
Experts dont know much about this delta agent. In some cases, the hepatitis B symptoms worsen due to the coinfection, while it went unnoticed in others.
How Is Viral Hepatitis Diagnosed
Diagnosis of viral hepatitis is based on symptoms and physical findings as well as blood tests for liver enzymes, viral antibodies, and viral genetic materials.
Symptoms and physical findings
Diagnosis of acute viral hepatitis often is easy, but the diagnosis of chronic hepatitis can be difficult. When a patient reports symptoms of fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain, darkening of urine, and then develops jaundice, the diagnosis of acute viral hepatitis is likely and can be confirmed by blood tests. On the other hand, patients with chronic hepatitis due to HBV and HCV often have no symptoms or only mild nonspecific symptoms such as chronic fatigue. Typically, these patients do not have jaundice until the liver damage is far advanced. Therefore, these patients can remain undiagnosed for years to decades.
There are three types of blood tests for evaluating patients with hepatitis: liver enzymes, antibodies to the hepatitis viruses, and viral proteins or genetic material .
Liver enzymes: Among the most sensitive and widely used blood tests for evaluating patients with hepatitis are liver enzymes, called aminotransferases. They include aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase . These enzymes normally are contained within liver cells. If the liver is injured , the liver cells spill the enzymes into the blood, raising the enzyme levels in the blood and signaling that the liver is damaged.
Examples of tests for viral antibodies are:
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History And Physical Exam
To diagnose hepatitis, first your doctor will take your history to determine any risk factors you may have for infectious or noninfectious hepatitis.
During a physical examination, your doctor may press down gently on your abdomen to see if theres pain or tenderness. Your doctor may also feel to see if your liver is enlarged. If your skin or eyes are yellow, your doctor will note this during the exam.
What Causes Hepatitis
There are different types of hepatitis, with different causes:
- Viral hepatitis is the most common type. It is caused by one of several viruses — hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D, and E. In the United States, A, B, and C are the most common.
- Alcoholic hepatitis is caused by heavy alcohol use
- Toxic hepatitis can be caused by certain poisons, chemicals, medicines, or supplements
- Autoimmune hepatitis is a chronic type in which your body’s immune system attacks your liver. The cause is not known, but genetics and your environment may play a role.
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What Is Hepatitis A
For kids, hep A is the most common type of hepatitis to get. The virus lives in poop from people who have the infection. That’s why it’s so important to wash your hands before eating and after going to the bathroom. If you don’t, and then go make yourself a sandwich, hep A virus might end up on your food, and then in you!
Vegetables, fruits, and shellfish also can carry hepatitis if they were harvested in contaminated water or in unsanitary conditions. Hepatitis A affects people for a short time, and when they recover, it does not come back.
How Long Does It Last
Hepatitis A can last from a few weeks to several months.
Hepatitis B can range from a mild illness, lasting a few weeks, to a serious, life-long condition. More than 90% of unimmunized infants who get infected develop a chronic infection, but 6%10% of older children and adults who get infected develop chronic hepatitis B.
Hepatitis C can range from a mild illness, lasting a few weeks, to a serious, life-long infection. Most people who get infected with the hepatitis C virus develop chronic hepatitis C.
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What Are The Symptoms And Signs Of Viral Hepatitis
The period of time between exposure to hepatitis and the onset of the illness is called the incubation period. The incubation period varies depending on the specific hepatitis virus. Hepatitis A virus has an incubation period of about 15 to 45 days Hepatitis B virus from 45 to 160 days, and Hepatitis C virus from about 2 weeks to 6 months.
Many patients infected with HAV, HBV, and HCV have few or no symptoms of illness. For those who do develop symptoms of viral hepatitis, the most common are flu-like symptoms including:
What Are The Treatments For Hepatitis C
Treatment for hepatitis C is with antiviral medicines. They can cure the disease in most cases.
If you have acute hepatitis C, your health care provider may wait to see if your infection becomes chronic before starting treatment.
If your hepatitis C causes cirrhosis, you should see a doctor who specializes in liver diseases. Treatments for health problems related to cirrhosis include medicines, surgery, and other medical procedures. If your hepatitis C leads to liver failure or liver cancer, you may need a liver transplant.
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Can Hepatitis Be Prevented
There are different ways to prevent or lower your risk for hepatitis, depending on the type of hepatitis. For example, not drinking too much alcohol can prevent alcoholic hepatitis. There are vaccines to prevent hepatitis A and B. Autoimmune hepatitis cannot be prevented.
NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
How Do You Get Hepatitis C
Just like hepatitis B, you can get this type by sharing needles or having contact with infected blood. You can also catch it by having sex with somebody who’s infected, but that’s less common.
If you had a blood transfusion before new screening rules were put in place in 1992, you are at risk for hepatitis C. If not, the blood used in transfusions today is safe. It gets checked beforehand to make sure it’s free of the virus that causes hepatitis B and C.
It’s rare, but if you’re pregnant and have the disease, it’s possible to pass it to your newborn.
There are some myths out there about how you get hepatitis C, so let’s set the record straight. It’s not spread by food and water . And you canât spread it by doing any of these things:
- Joint pain
See your doctor as soon as possible if you have any of these symptoms.
Sometimes, people have no symptoms. To be sure you have hepatitis, youâll need to get tested.
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