Forms of Hepatitis

Forms of Hepatitis

What Causes Hepatitis

There are quite a few medical conditions that specifically target the liver and ultimately cause liver dysfunction. One variation of these leads to inflammation of the liver (commonly referred to as hepatitis), which could be due to different types of viruses, alcohol abuse or an auto-immune response against certain hepatic proteins.

The viruses that could give rise to hepatitis re broadly classified into five main categories, and they are: hepatitis A, B, C, D and E viruses. Invariably all these variations of viruses are capable of inflicting short term hepatitis (or otherwise known as acute hepatitis), however specifically hepatitis B, D and E viruses, they could bring about long-term liver inflammation (referred to as chronic hepatitis). Patients infected with these viruses run the risk of liver failure, scarring (cirrhosis) or cancer. Hepatitis A and E viruses use food or water contaminated with feces from an infected person as a transmission medium, while hepatitis B, C and D are primarily transmitted by coming into contact infected blood (e.g. blood transfusions, use of contaminated needles), through sex with an infected person or from an infected mother to her newborn during pregnancy.

It is difficult to detect the corresponding symptoms according to the respective hepatitis viruses. Sometimes the infection does not even produce any symptoms at all. If these symptoms surface, they will take the form of appetite loss, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue, headache, low grade fever and jaundice (a yellowish discoloration of the skin and the white of the eyes).

Acute hepatitis (especially in the case of hepatitis A and E) is so-named it comes and go within a time-frame and patients often heal on their own, but chronic hepatitis needs to be treated with interferon or antiviral agents, unfortunately even these drugs may not work all the time.

Hepatitis prevention

Prevention is critical to counter hepatitis and it has been found effective to contain the spread of hepatitis among communities of people. Hepatitis A and B can be successfully dealt with through specific preventive vaccination, however there is no known vaccine developed that could prevent hepatitis C, D and E. Nevertheless, experts have observed that hepatitis D can be effectively prevented with hepatitis B vaccine.

When one is not adequately vaccinated, the best way prevention is by reducing the exposure to these hepatitis viruses. Preventive measures have to be formulated differently in accordance to the type of hepatitis and the mode of its transmission. Effective prevention against hepatitis A and E may include the followings: keep good hygiene when it comes to food preparation and consumption, also be more vigilant on drinking tap water and eating uncooked food (this is especially so when one travel out of his home country to developing countries, where sanitation and hygiene standards could be questionable). On the other hand, to keep out of hepatitis B, C and D viruses: minimize contact with infected blood, avoid drug needles sharing (especially with an infected person) and always insist on latex condoms with new acquaintance.

In situations where hepatitis is not induced by viruses, prevention and treatment take on another approach. In the case of hepatitis brought about through alcohol abuse, it could obviously be prevented by cutting down alcohol consumption, and medications such as hepato-protectors could be used to treat this variation of hepatitis.

As part of their travel, international travelers are inadvertently exposed to the risk of contracting viral hepatitis (especially hepatitis A and E). It is only prudent that they get themselves sufficiently covered with an appropriate international health insurance plan.