Types of Hepatitis – Causes, Symptoms, Types, Prevention and Treatment

The word hepatitis originates from the Ancient Greek word ‘hepar’ meaning ‘liver’, and the Latin word ‘itis’ meaning inflammation. Thus the term hepatitis means injury to the liver due to inflammation of the liver cells. Hepatitis can be triggered by drug usage, excessive alcohol consumption or certain medical conditions; but mostly, it is caused by a virus. The most common forms of viral hepatitis are hepatitis A, B and C. In this article we shall discus about types of hepatitis, causes and symptoms of hepatitis, hepatitis treatment and prevention of hepatitis.

types of hepatitis

Types of hepatitis

There are five main types of hepatitis and they are usually triggered by a virus infection. They are:

Hepatitis A

It is highly contagious and can be transmitted from one person to another in different ways. It is one of the types of hepatitis caused by consumption of food or water infected with HAV virus, which is hepatitis A virus. It can also be transmitted during sexual activities. It is not a chronic disease. Symptoms of this disease is mild, it is characterized by mild illness. The patients recover quite soon and there is no long-term liver damage.

Hepatitis B

It is a sexually transmitted disease caused by HBV, hepatitis B virus. A person can get infected if he/she comes in contact with contaminated blood, semen or body fluids of the infected person. Some other reasons are:

  • Unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected person
  • Using an infected syringe.
  • Using unsterilized needles for skin perforation, as might be the case when getting a tattoo, or being accidentally pricked.
  • Sharing personal items with an infected person.
  • A infected mother can pass the virus to the baby during childbirth

Symptoms and causes of hepatitis B are mild, but the effects are long-lasting. For some patients hepatitis B becomes chronic and leads to severe problems such as permanent liver damage or cancer.

Hepatitis C

About 75% of people infected with hepatitis C carry the virus in their body for a long term. It usually spreads through direct contact with infected blood, sharing needles, at childbirth, and in rare cases, during sexual intercourse. It is caused by HCV. It can lead to serious complications like swelling of liver, liver failure and liver cancer.

Hepatitis D

Only a person infected with hepatitis B is prone to be infected with hepatitis D. It is one of the types of hepatitis caused by the virus HDV, which spreads through contact with infected blood, during unprotected sex, or due to skin perforation with infected needles. It causes liver damage.

Hepatitis E

Consuming water contaminated by HEV (hepatitis E virus) can lead to hepatitis E infection. It can also be transmitted during anal-oral sex. It causes swelling of liver but there is no long-term consequence.

Hepatitis G

It is caused by HGV (hepatitis G virus). It does not show any prominent symptoms like other hepatitis infections.

Hepatitis X

Hepatitis X is caused by an unknown virus. If a hepatitis infection cannot be recognised to have been caused by any of the known hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D, or E then it is called hepatitis X.

Hepatitis Symptoms

It is hard to realize having borne the disease in the initial stage. During the acute phase, people experience mild symptoms or at times none at all. When hepatitis symptoms appear, the infected people may experience fatigue, nausea, poor appetite, mild fever, stomach ache or jaundice. There may be no symptom of chronic hepatitis B or C for years. By the time a hepatitis symptom appears, there is a chance that the liver has already been damaged.

Hepatitis symptoms in the acute phase

The initial phase of hepatitis is called the acute phase. The hepatitis symptoms are like a mild flu, and may include:

hepatitis treatment

  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhoea
  • Mild fever
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or joint aches
  • Nausea
  • Slight abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss.

As the disease starts getting worse, other hepatitis symptoms which may follow are:

  • Circulation problems
  • Dark urine
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Headache
  • Hives
  • Itchy skin
  • Light colored feces containing pus
  • Signs of jaundice

Treatments of hepatitis

Hepatitis A

No treatment and medication is needed for hepatitis A because it is cured on its own. The patient has to stay away from alcohol and drugs during the recovery. Several small meals throughout the day is recommended. The patients need to stay hydrated and abstain from physical exercises.

Hepatitis B

A patient with hepatitis B needs enough rest. He needs a highly protein and carbohydrate rich diet to repair damaged liver cells. The doctor may prescribe interferon, an antiviral agent to control the virus, if required.

Hepatitis C

A patient with hepatitis C is usually prescribed pegylated interferon and ribavirin. The latest drug for hepatitis C is Harvoni. It takes 8-12 weeks for the person to be cured.

Hepatitis D or E

So far, there is no treatment for either hepatitis D or E.

Non-viral hepatitis

Patients with non-viral hepatitis have to undergo different hepatitis treatments. The doctor removes the harmful substance by flushing it out of the stomach by hyperventilation or induced vomiting. However, patients suffering from drug-induced hepatitis may be prescribed corticosteroids as treatment.

Preventing hepatitis

Hepatitis A and Hepatitis E

Prevention of hepatitis A and hepatitis E can be done in the following ways:

  • Wash hands with soap after using the toilet
  • Consume only freshly cooked food
  • Only drink filtered boiled water
  • Only eat thoroughly disinfected raw vegetables and fruits
  • Before travelling to places infected with hepatitis A, get a vaccine for hepatitis A.

Hepatitis B

Prevention of hepatitis B can be done in the following ways:

  • Practice safe sex
  • Only use unused and clean syringes
  • Do not share personal items like toothbrushes or razors
  • If you are at risk have a hepatitis B series of shots
  • Use only sterilized skin perforating equipment

Hepatitis C

Prevention of hepatitis C can be done in the following ways:

  • Do not share personal items like toothbrushes or razors
  • Cover open wounds if you are infected
  • Quit alcohol
  • Use only sterilized skin perforating equipment

Hepatitis D

Prevention for hepatitis D is same for hepatitis B because only a person infected with hepatitis B can be infected with hepatitis D.

Alcoholic hepatitis

A person affected with alcoholic hepatitis should abstain from consuming alcohol.

Prevention is better than cure. It is always recommended to lead a safe life than to cure what could have been prevented. Thus, prevention for hepatitis is the best option. But in case if you have any of the signs of hepatitis, always remember to check with a doctor. A delayed hepatitis treatment can lead to cirrhosis, a serious liver damage. Keep your eyes open for symptoms of hepatitis in yourself and your family members and have a safe life ahead.

All the treatments – medicines, injections and vaccines are for general information of the reader. Please consult a doctor and get a formal prescription before taking any medicines, supplements and injections.

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