Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. The term, hepatitis, is often used to refer to a viral infection in the liver, although there are several causes of hepatitis, some non-viral. There are several types of hepatitis, with the most common being: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C.
The causes of hepatitis range from viruses, infections, alcohol, certain drugs (such as paracetamol and ketoconazole), autoimmune diseases, metabolic diseases, and heredity.
- Hepatitis A is contracted when contaminated fecal matter are ingested.
- Hepatitis B is contracted from the exchange of bodily fluids, such as semen or saliva from another hepatitis carrier.
- Hepatitis C is contracted from contact with contaminated blood, during childbirth, shared needles or sexual contact.
- Alcoholic hepatitis and drug-induced hepatitis are types of liver damage caused by the ingestion of alcohol, drugs or other poisonous substances.
- Autoimmune hepatitis is usually passed on from relatives that carry other autoimmune diseases. This type of liver inflammation may often be accompanied by graves disease, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, and other diseases that result in the immune system’s inability to distinguish harmful substances.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report viral hepatitis as the leading cause of liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplantation. Approximately 4.4 million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis; most do not know they are infected. Hepatitis can at times heal on its own (self limiting) or progress to fibrosis and cirrhosis.
Hepatitis can be classified as acute – lasting for less than six months, or chronic – persisting longer than six months. In the case of acute hepatitis, the liver may be able to repair itself, but if you suspect your may have hepatitis you should still consult a doctor. Typical symptoms of acute hepatitis resemble a mild flu with a low-grade fever, diarrhea, muscle pain and nausea. Complications of acute hepatitis can lead to permanent liver scarring and damage. If left untreated, hepatitis can also contribute to the worsening of other illnesses.
General symptoms that occur among patients with chronic hepatitis include: abdominal pain, dark urine or clay colored stool, chronic fatigue, frequent low grade fever, general itching, jaundice, loss of appetite, nausea and weight loss. Physical examinations for chronic hepatitis may show enlarged and tender liver, yellowing of skin, and fluid in the abdomen.
Depending upon the cause and type of hepatitis, treatments may vary. For patients with Hepatitis A, abstinence from drugs and alcohol is necessary to let the liver repair itself. For patients with Hepatitis B or C, interferon drugs may be prescribed. These drugs aid the immune system in producing proteins and are also often used to treat leukemia, multiple sclerosis, and human papillomavirus. Symptoms such as mild fever and muscle aches may still occur during the treatment of hepatitis B or C, as they are also known side effects of interferon drugs.
The practice of proper hygiene and food sanitation can help prevent an individual from contracting many of the common forms of hepatitis. For more information on the prevention and treatment of hepatitis, Stat RX Pharmacy’s medical professionals are here for you. We carry a wide range of prescription medications to treat hepatitis. Contact us today to find out more about our comprehensive care programs for managing hepatitis.