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What is Hepatits?
Viral hepatitis, including hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C, are distinct diseases that affect the liver and have different hepatitis symptoms and treatments. Other causes of hepatitis include recreational drugs and prescription medications. Hepatitis type is determined by laboratory tests.
Symptoms of Hepatitis
Many people with hepatitis experience either mild symptoms or none at all. Remember that an infected person’s feces are always infectious to other people. When symptoms appear, they usually do so about 15 to 180 days after the person has become infected.
5 Types of Viral Hepatitis
Hepatitis A virus (HAV) is present in the faeces of infected persons and is most often transmitted through consumption of contaminated water or food. Certain sex practices can also spread HAV. Infections are in many cases mild, with most people making a full recovery and remaining immune from further HAV infections. However, HAV infections can also be severe and life threatening. Most people in areas of the world with poor sanitation have been infected with this virus. Safe and effective vaccines are available to prevent HAV.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is transmitted through exposure to infective blood, semen, and other body fluids. HBV can be transmitted from infected mothers to infants at the time of birth or from family member to infant in early childhood. Transmission may also occur through transfusions of HBV-contaminated blood and blood products, contaminated injections during medical procedures, and through injection drug use. HBV also poses a risk to healthcare workers who sustain accidental needle stick injuries while caring for infected-HBV patients. Safe and effective vaccines are available to prevent HBV.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is mostly transmitted through exposure to infective blood. This may happen through transfusions of HCV-contaminated blood and blood products, contaminated injections during medical procedures, and through injection drug use. Sexual transmission is also possible, but is much less common. There is no vaccine for HCV.
Hepatitis D virus (HDV) infections occur only in those who are infected with HBV. The dual infection of HDV and HBV can result in a more serious disease and worse outcome. Hepatitis B vaccines provide protection from HDV infection.
Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is mostly transmitted through consumption of contaminated water or food. HEV is a common cause of hepatitis outbreaks in developing parts of the world and is increasingly recognized as an important cause of disease in developed countries. Safe and effective vaccines to prevent HEV infection have been developed but are not widely available.
Treatments for Hepatitis
We will discuss the treatments for the different types of hepatitis in turn.
There is no treatment specifically for hepatitis A. The doctor will advise the patient to abstain from alcohol and drugs during the recovery. The vast majority of patients with hepatitis A will recover spontaneously.
A patient with hepatitis B needs to rest. He will require a diet that is high in protein and carbohydrate – this is to repair damaged liver cells, as well as to protect the liver. If this is not enough, the doctor may prescribe interferon. Interferon is an antiviral agent.
A patient with hepatitis C will be prescribed pegylated interferon and ribavirin.
Patients with chronic hepatitis C who are receiving standard HCV treatment may benefit significantly by taking vitamin B12 supplements, researchers reported in the journal Gut. The authors explained that by adding vitamin B12 to standard treatment, the body’s ability to fight the virus is greatly improved. According to their study results, patients who are difficult to treat effectively benefit especially well.
Interferon-free therapy for hepatitis C ‘cured’ 90% of patients, A study found that an interferon-free combination of drugs was safe, well tolerated and cured over 90% of 380 trial patients with liver cirrhosis in 12 weeks. The research was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in April 2014.
Hepatitis D or E
So far, there is no effective treatment for either hepatitis D or E.
If the patient has non-viral hepatitis, the doctor needs to remove the harmful substance. It will be flushed out of the stomach by hyperventilation or induced vomiting. Patients with drug-induced hepatitis may be prescribed corticosteroids.
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