Hepatitis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Hepatitis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

by Shearly (SU)

Hepatitis is a potentially serious disease that attacks and inflames the liver. There are five basic types of hepatitis: A, B, C, D, and E. Most cases of hepatitis are caused by a virus, however there are other causes, including medications, illicit drug use, excessive alcohol consumption, toxins, autoimmune disorders, and even obesity. At Anne Arundel Gastroenterology Associates, we understand the causes, symptoms, and treatment of hepatitis. We wanted to share some more information on this serious condition, because there are several different types of hepatitis that vary in severity.

 

All About Hepatitis

 

Hepatitis can be either a chronic (long term) or acute (sudden) condition. Some types of hepatitis, such as hepatitis C, can be transmitted through blood, or from contaminated tattoo or injectable drug needles. Other types can even be contracted by eating or drinking after someone, and can even originate via fecal matter, when people do not properly wash their hands after using the restroom.

 

Hepatitis A

This is one of the milder forms, although it can make you extremely ill. It’s usually passed along by eating or drinking after someone, and will typically improves on its own. Although hepatitis A does not usually lead to long term liver damage, you should still see a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

 

Hepatitis B

This type is often contracted sexually, as well as sharing or using contaminated needles (often from illicit drug use or contaminated tattoo needles). Hepatitis B can cause damage to the liver; however, it usually improves on its own. Roughly 20% of the people who contract this type will require hospitalization. There is a vaccine to prevent Hepatitis B.

 

Hepatitis C

This form of hepatitis can lead to liver cancer. About 15-30% of people with hepatitis C have the virus and yet it clears on its own. Known as HCV, it is not usually associated with extensive liver damage or life threatening. The remaining 70-85% however, are likely to develop chronic liver inflammation, liver infections, scarring (known as cirrhosis), or even liver cancer. Roughly 5-20% of those with this type of hepatitis will develop cirrhosis within two decades.

 

Hepatitis D 

Hepatitis D is restricted to those who already have hepatitis B. In other words, you cannot get hepatitis D unless you already have hepatitis B. Although you can acquire both at the same time if you are exposed to blood or other body fluids of someone who has both. Basically, it makes hepatitis B much more severe.

 

Hepatitis E

As with hepatitis A, hepatitis E is passed along by eating and drinking after someone with the active virus. This type is found more often in Africa, Asia, Mexico, and India, than in the United States. Most US cases of hepatitis E can often be linked back to someone who recently traveled to areas where it is more prevalent. As with A and B, hepatitis E can clear up on its own, however it can lead to liver failure if not monitored and treated properly.

To find out more about hepatitis or to schedule an appointment with one of our highly qualified gastroenterologists, call Anne Arundel Gastroenterology Associates at (410) 224-2116 today, or complete our convenient online form to schedule an appointment. We always look forward to helping our patients achieve their healthcare goals, along with knowing and understanding more about important treatments and conditions.