Hepatitis refers to inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis can be acute (short term infection) or chronic (long term infection). There are different types of hepatitis:
- Viral hepatitis – caused by viruses
- Alcoholic hepatitis – caused by alcohol intake
- Toxic hepatitis – caused by exposure to chemicals
- Autoimmune hepatitis – caused when the body’s immune system attacks the liver
Different types of hepatitis have different causes including:
- Viral infection
- Alcohol intake
- Exposure to chemicals
- Autoimmune disorder
- Genetic factors
- Environmental factors
Symptoms of hepatitis include:
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Dark urine
- Jaundice: yellow skin and eyes
- Pale stool
- Joint pain
Some people affected with hepatitis may not exhibit any symptoms.
Diagnosis of hepatitis is based on:
- Signs and symptoms
- Family history
- Physical examination
- Blood tests
- Liver function tests
- Imaging procedures including:
- Computerised tomography – CT scan
- Magnetic resonance imaging -MRI
- Liver biopsy
Some of the preventive measures for hepatitis includes:
- Routine vaccination
- Regular handwashing
- Avoid contact with infected person
- Maintain good personal hygiene
- Drink boiled water
There are no specific treatments for hepatitis. The liver may heal with time. Treatment focuses on relieving the signs and symptoms.
- Stop or avoid alcohol as it causes further damage.
- Taking enough rest can relieve tiredness and sickness.
- Drink plenty of fluids to treat dehydration.
- Severe cases can be treated with antiviral drugs.
- Liver transplantation may be necessary if the liver is severely damaged.
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