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Today in Health & Wellness
HEALTH CONDITIONS

Hepatitis

Overview
Symptoms
Risk Factors
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
Doctors to Consult
Overview

The liver is a large organ in the human body that is located below the diaphragm on the right in the thoracic region of the abdomen. Its main function is to filter the blood coming from the gastrointestinal tract before distributing it to the human body. It also has the function of detoxifying chemicals, metabolizing medicines, making proteins that are important for blood clotting, among others.

With the many functions of the liver, it is hard if it gets hit with a disease or infection. One of the conditions that may affect the liver is hepatitis. Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. It can be due to viruses (viral hepatitis), certain drugs (drug-induced hepatitis), or other factors that may cause inflammation of the liver.

Common Forms of Viral Hepatitis

  • Hepatitis A. Caused by hepatitis A virus (HAV) of the family Picornavirus. It is also known as infectious hepatitis. It is transmitted through direct oral-fecal contact or fecal contamination of food or water. The fatality rate of hepatitis A infection is less than 1%.
  • Hepatitis B. Caused by hepatitis B virus (HBV) of the Hepadnaviridae family. It is also known as serum hepatitis. It is transmitted through blood or sexual contact. Transmission of hepatitis B by way of infected blood exposure happens when contaminated liquid gets into an eye or when aseptic procedures are not performed with intravenous needles and the like.
  • Hepatitis C. Caused by hepatitis C virus (HCV) of the Flaviviridae family. It is also called as "non-A, non-B" hepatitis. Hepatitis C is mainly transmitted through infected blood exposures like blood transfusions or tattooing. Sexual contact and perinatal (mother to infant) transmissions may also occur, though the prevalence is not as clear.

Drug-induced Hepatitis

Drug-induced hepatitis is rarely seen, but certain medications and/or their metabolites may be found to be hepatotoxic while other drugs produce allergic reactions that could result in hepatic injury. The signs and symptoms of drug-induced hepatitis are highly variable and can be similar to other forms of hepatitis. Diagnosis should be made only upon further laboratory tests and confirmations.

Symptoms

Hepatitis A:

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Anorexia
  • Malaise
  • Abdominal discomfort (right upper quadrant pain)
  • Dark urine
  • Jaundice

Hepatitis B and C:

Acute Hepatitis

  • Flu-like symptoms such as malaise, weakness, anorexia, nausea, vomiting

  • Right upper quadrant abdominal pain (over the liver)

Chronic Hepatitis

  • Asymptomatic at times
  • Other patients encounter mild symptoms occasionally
  • Sometimes, the finding of chronic hepatitis is not determined until the patient develops cirrhosis.
  • Fatigue, weakness, malaise
Risk Factors
  • Consumption of contaminated food or water (hepatitis A)
  • Sexual contact with multiple partners or with a person who has hepatitis or a sexually transmitted disease
  • Direct contact with the blood of a person who has the disease
  • Having blood transfusions or blood products
  • Sharing of needles; getting a tattoo or body piercing using unsterilized needles
  • Close contact with a person who has the disease
  • Work that includes contact with bodily fluids
  • Babies born to mothers infected with hepatitis B or C
  • Using improperly cleaned household items that were used by an infected person
  • Having a solid organ transplant
  • Persistent elevation in some liver enzymes
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
  • Vaccines (pre- and/or post-exposure prophylaxis)
  • Anti-virals
Treatment and Management
Home Remedies
Doctors to Consult
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