Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver caused by several different factors such as alcohol consumption, overdose of certain medications, and other health conditions, of which viral infection is the most common cause.
Viral hepatitis is generally caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV). Hepatitis infection could be transmitted to a healthy person(unvaccinated) from an infected person through infected body fluids such as transfused blood.
Here we have detailed all the possible symptoms, causes, and ways to prevent this viral infection.
Classification of viral hepatitis:
Hepatitis A – hepatitis A is generally a mild liver infection that leads to the inflammation of the liver which in rare cases might lead to certain complications making it a life-threatening infection. It is commonly transmitted through infected food & water.
Hepatitis B- The slightly more complex hepatitis B virus causes an inflammatory liver condition that, in certain circumstances, could progress to liver failure or cirrhosis of the liver if the infection remains untreated. Commonly transfused through infected body fluids & human feces.
Hepatitis C- Hepatitis C virus is also referred to as chronic hepatitis C; it typically causes “silent damage to your liver” and is only found to be symptomatic in its very late stages hence it can permanently damage your liver, lead to liver failure or might turn it into carcinogenic liver disease.
Hepatitis D- occurs in people who are already infected by the hepatitis B virus. Hepatitis D is spread through body fluids from an infected person. This virus could be short-lived or could in some cases turn into a long-lasting, chronic illness.
Symptoms of hepatitis:
Common symptoms of infection caused by any of the HAV, HBV, and HCV viruses include:
- Abdominal pain
- Flu-like symptoms
- Dark urine
- Pale stool
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss due to unexplained causes
- Eyes & skin turning pale or yellow (jaundice)
Hepatitis: common causes
The most common cause of viral hepatitis infections remains the transmission of the infected body fluid such as blood from an infected person to a healthy uninfected (unvaccinated) person.
While noninfectious hepatitis (which is not caused by a virus) could be caused due to any of the following reasons:
- Consumption of alcoholic substances
- Exposure or consumption of certain toxic and poisonous chemicals.
- Auto-immune system response – when the body senses a threat from a foreign particle or virus, it results in an immune response i.e., it starts attacking the virus, sometimes in this process, healthy cells & tissues are also caught up; this is termed as an auto-immune response.
How to prevent viral hepatitis:
Identifying the cause and avoiding it is the best way to prevent such contagious viral infections. Other ways how you can prevent from getting caught by this virus are:
Vaccines – vaccines are the most effective way to avoid hepatitis caused by hepatitis A & hepatitis B viruses. Since there is no vaccine currently available to prevent hepatitis C virus infection, doctors advise following good hygiene practices like washing hands and avoiding used syringes.
Vaccines are available for all age groups, getting a vaccine dose as early as possible is one of the safest ways to prevent viral hepatitis.
Reducing exposure – reducing exposure to certain specific chemicals & toxic substances present in your living environment can help prevent you from getting caught by viral hepatitis infections of any type.