Understanding Hepatitis: Causes, Types, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention


Hepatitis is the medical term used to describe an inflammatory condition of the liver. Hepatitis can damage the liver, thus affecting the liver’s performance in cleaning the blood from harmful compounds.

Quoting the Healthline page, hepatitis is usually caused by a viral infection. There are various types of hepatitis caused by different viruses. Because of this, hepatitis has treatments that vary depending on the type and underlying cause.

But there are also other causes that can cause hepatitis besides viral infections, such as autoimmune conditions, drug abuse, exposure to poisons, to excessive alcohol consumption.

Types of Hepatitis

There are a number of types of hepatitis, some of which are contagious and some are not, some can heal on their own and are chronic. The following types of hepatitis are summarized from various sources:

1. Hepatitis A

This type is caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). Usually this virus is transmitted through consumption of food and drink and water contaminated with feces of infected people. Hepatitis A is most common in countries with poor sanitation.

Hepatitis A can heal by itself within a few months (short term). But sometimes it can also be severe to life threatening.

2. Hepatitis B

The cause is the hepatitis B virus (HBV) which spreads in the blood of an infected person. Hepatitis B is a common infection that can be spread from pregnant women (infected) to their babies, or from child to child contact. Hepatitis B can also be transmitted through unprotected sex and injection drugs.

Adults infected with hepatitis B, most are able to fight off the virus and fully recover within a few months. But most children, are infected in the long term (chronic) and can cause cirrhosis and liver cancer.

3. Hepatitis C

This type comes from the hepatitis C virus (HCV). It can be spread through blood contact from an infected person. It can also be transmitted through needles used to inject drugs.

Hepatitis C often doesn’t cause visible symptoms, only similar to flu symptoms, so many people don’t realize they are infected.

Infected people will sometimes fight the virus from within their own bodies, and recover. But there are also viruses that stay in the body for years, and cause cirrhosis and liver failure.

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4. Hepatitis D

Caused by the hepatitis D virus (HDV). This type of hepatitis only affects people who are already infected with hepatitis B, because it requires HBV to survive in the body. Hepatitis D is also known as a rare form of hepatitis.

Hepatitis D is usually spread through blood to blood or sexual contact. Long-term hepatitis D and hepatitis B infections can pose a risk of serious health problems, such as cirrhosis and liver cancer.

5. Hepatitis E

The cause is the hepatitis E virus (HEV). This disease is transmitted through water that is exposed to HEV, especially in areas that have poor sanitation.

Hepatitis E is a mild, short-term infection and does not require serious treatment. But in some people whose immune systems are weak, hepatitis E can become severe. Hepatitis E can also be very dangerous in pregnant women.

6. Hepatitis Alcoholic

This type of hepatitis is caused by excessive alcohol consumption in the long term. For drinkers of alcohol, many do not realize that they have hepatitis.

Because usually, hepatitis one is asymptomatic. Although it can cause sudden jaundice and liver failure in some people. Another risk for excessive alcoholics is cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer.

7. Autoimmune Hepatitis

Autoimmune hepatitis is a rare cause of long-term hepatitis in which the immune system attacks and damages the liver. That way, the liver can become very damaged and even stop working properly. Until now, the cause of autoimmune hepatitis is unknown.

Symptoms of Hepatitis

Quoting the NHS page, short-term (acute) hepatitis often has no visible symptoms. That way people who are infected are sometimes not aware of it.

It is also possible for long-term (chronic) hepatitis to have no obvious symptoms until the liver stops working properly (liver failure). And can only be known during a blood test.

But if there are symptoms, then the symptoms of hepatitis include:

  • Muscle and joint pain
  • High body temperature
  • Feeling sick
  • Fatigue all the time
  • Feeling unwell
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stomach ache
  • Dark urine
  • Pale gray stools
  • Itchy skin
  • Yellowing of the eyes and skin
  • Unexplained weight loss
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If someone has continuous complaints like those on the list above, immediately go to the doctor and have it checked. Examination to the doctor also needs to be done for sufferers of conditions that can increase the risk of infection with hepatitis, such as consumption of drugs, alcohol addiction, to autoimmune diseases.

Hepatitis Treatment

Referring to the Healthline website, treatment or care for hepatitis depends on the type and cause.

1. Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a short-term illness that may not require treatment. But if the symptoms are uncomfortable, the infected person needs complete rest. If you experience vomiting or diarrhea, a diet program is recommended to maintain body hydration and nutrition.

2. Hepatitis B

There is no known specific treatment for acute hepatitis B. However, if you have chronic hepatitis B, you need antiviral drugs. This one treatment is considered expensive, because it allows it to continue for several months or years.

Treatment for chronic hepatitis B also requires regular medical evaluation and monitoring to determine if the virus is responding to treatment.

3. Hepatitis C

Antiviral drug therapy can treat acute and chronic forms of hepatitis C. But further testing is also needed to determine the best form of treatment. Hepatitis C sufferers who reach cirrhosis can also have a liver transplant.

4. Hepatitis D

Referring to WHO, pegylated alpha interferon treatment can be used to treat hepatitis D. However, this drug has severe side effects. As a result, it is not recommended for people with cirrhotic liver damage, people with psychiatric conditions, and people with autoimmune diseases.

5. Hepatitis E

There is no specific medical therapy available to treat hepatitis E. Because the infection is often short-lived, it can go away on its own.

Doctors will only advise people affected by hepatitis E to drink lots of fluids, get adequate nutrition, and avoid alcohol. But these infected pregnant women require close monitoring and treatment.

6. Autoimmune hepatitis

Corticosteroids, such as prednisone or budesonide, are very important in the early treatment of autoimmune hepatitis. This treatment is effective in about 80 percent of people with the condition autoimmune hepatitis.

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Azathioprine (Imuran), a medication that suppresses the immune system, may also be part of a treatment program. People can use this with or without steroids. Other immune-suppressing drugs such as mycophenolate (CellCept), tacrolimus (Prograf), and cyclosporine (Neoral) can also replace azathioprine in treatment.

How to Prevent Hepatitis

Apart from treatment, there are also ways you can do to prevent hepatitis.

1. Do the Vaccination

A vaccine for hepatitis A is available and can help prevent HAV. The hepatitis A vaccine consists of two doses, and most children are started vaccinated at 12 to 23 months of age. It is also available for adults and may also include the hepatitis B vaccine.

Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for newborns. Usually also the vaccine is given during the first 6 months of childhood. Hepatitis B vaccination is also said to prevent hepatitis D.

Currently, there is no vaccine available to prevent hepatitis C and E.

2. Keeping Clean

Practicing cleanliness is a way to avoid transmission of the hepatitis A and E viruses. Because the viruses that cause hepatitis can be in the water. So when traveling to countries with high hepatitis rates, we must avoid local water, ice, food as well as raw or undercooked vegetables.

3. Minimizing contact with infectious fluids

Again, the hepatitis V virus can be transmitted from person to person through contact with body fluids and water containing infectious agents. Minimizing the risk of contact with these substances can prevent contracting the hepatitis virus.

For this reason, you should not share needles, razors or toothbrushes with other people. It’s also good not to touch spilled blood.

4. Using Protectors during Sex

Hepatitis B and C can be transmitted through sexual intercourse and sexual contact. Using protection such as condoms during sexual activity can help reduce the risk of infection.

Those are some of the symptoms of hepatitis, along with a description of the causes, types, treatment of hepatitis and how to prevent it. For that, detikers, let’s protect ourselves from things that can transmit hepatitis!

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2023-06-08 15:45:28
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