Hepatitis simply means “inflammation of the liver”. It is the result of a complex process that might occur when the liver suffers an infection, injury, or an underlying condition. It is advisable to understand different types of hepatitis, as it can lead to different types of complications such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. Mentioned below are some types of hepatitis:
It is a liver disease caused due to one of the five hepatitis viruses. Hepatitis A through E is caused due to viral hepatitis.
People are infected with hepatitis A by drinking or eating something contaminated with the virus. Usually, adults exhibit severe symptoms lasting for up to two months. A person infected with hepatitis A virus usually passes the virus in his or her stools.
Hepatitis B is a blood-borne disease and can spread through several ways from an infected mother to her baby, reusing needles infected with hepatitis, or sexual contact with the infected person. The symptoms of hepatitis B usually go away in a couple months. However, if not met with proper treatment, it can also lead to liver cancer or cirrhosis.
Hepatitis C is also a blood-borne disease which spreads through sharing illicit drug or tattoo needles. However, it is rare for hepatitis C to spread through sexual contact. The acute symptoms of the infection last only for a couple of months as its treatment requires a combination of antiviral medications.
A blood-borne disease, hepatitis D affects only those who are infected with hepatitis B. Hence, in this case, being vaccinated against hepatitis B also keeps hepatitis D at bay.
Similar to hepatitis A in the way of spreading, hepatitis E has more serious outcomes in pregnant women and their babies.
An outcome of the autoimmune disease, this type of hepatitis causes inflammation of the liver. The immune system attacks liver causing inflammation as it considers the liver to be a foreign body or an invader. Autoimmune hepatitis worsens with time and can also lead to liver failure or cirrhosis. A person suffering from autoimmune hepatitis can experience symptoms such as joint pain, fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, skin rashes, dark yellow urine, light-colored stools, and jaundice.
Prescribed drugs if taken carelessly can cause inflammation in the liver causing drug-induced hepatitis. Drug-induced hepatitis affects the liver because most of the drugs are metabolized (broken down) in the liver. Although the effects of the overdose can be reversed, the increased toxicity can sometimes lead to permanent liver damage.
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol for prolonged periods is harmful to the liver and can lead to its inflammation. Alcoholic hepatitis has many progressive stages. If left untreated, alcoholic hepatitis can lead to fibrosis and cirrhosis, which is essentially irreversible.
Having inflammation of the liver for six months or longer can lead to chronic hepatitis. The distinction between acute and chronic hepatitis is necessary as treatments and prognosis will be different in both the cases. The main aim in both cases remains the same, to prevent fibrosis and liver cirrhosis.