Hepatitis doesn’t actually describe a disease, but means ‘inflammation of the liver’. While some medications and alcohol can cause this inflammation, most types of Hepatitis are caused by a viral infection. Autoimmune hepatitis is a condition in which the body creates antibodies to attack liver tissue.
Unfortunately, chronic types of hepatitis can be hard to diagnose, as they don’t initially cause symptoms and progress very gradually.
However, signs of acute hepatitis can include:
- Lethargy and fatigue
- Flu-like symptoms, including fever
- Dark-colored urine
- Pale stools
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Unintentional weight loss
- Yellowing of skin and eyes (jaundice)
Hepatitis A is acquired from Food or water contaminated by trace amounts of hepatitis A (usually via infected excrement)
Hepatitis B is transmitted through direct contact with blood, saliva, or semen that contains the Hepatitis B virus, so it can be passed via unprotected sex or dirty needles used when injecting drugs.
Hepatitis C is acquired via direct contact with blood, saliva, or semen that contains the Hepatitis C virus, so it can be passed via unprotected sex or dirty needles used when injecting drugs. It’s one of the most prevalent viral infections acquired by blood transfusion.
Hepatitis D, also referred to as delta hepatitis, is a severe liver disease that results from contact with the rare hepatitis D virus, and is usually transmitted along with hepatitis B through infected blood transfusion.
Hepatitis E is acquired through contact with the waterborne hepatitis E virus, usually due to infected feces, and is more common in areas of the world with poor sanitation.
Hepatitis should be properly assessed and treated by a gastroenterologist, who will recommend treatment based on the type of hepatitis and stage of the infection. Medications to attack the virus are usually used alongside others designed to boost the immune system.