What is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis is an inflammatory condition of the liver. It is primarily caused due to viral infection; however, other possible causes of hepatitis include autoimmune factors, exposure to certain medications, drugs, toxins and intake of alcohol. Autoimmune hepatitis is the type of hepatitis that occurs when the body makes antibodies against liver tissues.
The importance of Liver
Liver is one of the most important organs in the human body and is located in the right upper region of the abdomen. Some of the vital functions of liver include:
- Filtering toxins from body
- Production of bile, which is essential for digestion
- Excretion of bilirubin, cholesterol, hormones, and drugs
- Breakdown of carbohydrates & fat
- Activation of enzymes that are essential for body functions
- Glycogen storage
- Synthesis of various proteins & clotting factors
The 5 types of viral hepatitis
Till date, 5 unique hepatitis viruses have been identified. These are identified by the letters A, B, C, D, and E. All types causes liver disease but they vary in important ways.
Hepatitis Ais caused by an infection with the hepatitis A virus (HAV). Hepatitis A virus is most commonly transmitted by consuming food or water contaminated by feces from a person infected with hepatitis A
Hepatitis Bis transmitted through contact with infectious body fluids like blood, vaginal discharge semen or sperm, blood transfusion or sharing razor or injection needle etc.
Hepatitis C is transmitted through direct contact with infected body fluids, typically through injection drug use and sexual contact.
Hepatitis Dis also called delta hepatitis. Hepatitis D is a serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis D virus (HDV). HDV is transmitted through direct contact with infected blood.
Hepatitis Eis a waterborne disease caused by the hepatitis E virus (HEV). Hepatitis E is mainly found in areas with poor sanitation and typically results from ingesting fecal matter that contaminates the water supply.
Common symptoms of hepatitis
Signs and symptoms of acute hepatitis appear quickly. They include:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Dark urine
- Pale stool
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Yellowish discoloration of skin and eyes, which may be signs of jaundice
Chronic hepatitis develops slowly, so these signs and symptoms may be too subtle to notice.
Diagnosis of Hepatitis
History and physical assessment by the doctor: The doctor will assess the complete history and does the physical examination to identify any symptoms or risk factors for Hepatitis
Liver function tests: Liver function tests (LFT) use blood samples to determine the efficient functioning of the liver. Abnormal results of these tests may be the first indication of a problem, especially if there is no signs on a physical examination of liver disease.
Blood tests: If the liver function tests (LFT) are abnormal, the doctor might suggest other diagnostics tests to detect the source of the problem. These tests can check for the viruses that cause hepatitis. They can also be used to check for antibodies that are common in conditions like autoimmune hepatitis. Trivitron’s Labsystems Diagnostics’ HBsAg ELISA based kits detect hepatitis B antigens from serum/plasma sample thus confirming Hepatitis B infection
Ultrasound: The doctor may suggest for an ultrasound to study the liver and adjacent organs. Some of it includes,
- Fluid collection in the abdomen
- Liver damage or enlargement
- Liver tumors
- Abnormalities of the gallbladder
It is an invasive procedure that involves collection of a sample of tissue from the liver which can be done with a needle and it doesn’t require surgery. Typically, an ultrasound is used to guide the doctor while taking the biopsy sample. Through this test, doctors can determine how infection or inflammation has affected the liver.