What is hepatitis and how to prevent it

July 23, 2020

What is hepatitis and how to prevent it
Share the article

Hepatitis is a disease that affects the liver and causes inflammation. There are many types of hepatitis, which are caused by different reasons. Some are mild and you may not know that you are infected. Your body will fight it off in a few weeks to months, but there are serious types that may lead to severe liver damage.

A brief description of each is given below to help you identify them and take timely treatment.

Types of hepatitis

Viral Hepatitis
Viral hepatitis is caused when your liver is infected with one of the 5 strains of hepatitis viruses. Hepatitis A and hepatitis E are food and water borne infections. They are self limiting and cause severe liver damage only if your immune system is compromised.
Hepatitis B and C are spread through infected blood and blood products. Sharing needles, razors, toothbrushes, certain unsterilized medical equipment and having unprotected sex are the main reasons of spread. These infections can also pass from mother to baby during childbirth.
Hepatitis D is a very serious infection, but it only infects you if you have a hepatitis B infection or if you have had hepatitis B infection in the past.
Hepatitis B, C and D may be cleared from your body within a few months or may remain in your liver even after 6 months leading to chronic hepatitis infection. Over a period of time these infections will kill liver cells leading to scarring of liver called cirrhosis. Liver cancer is also caused by chronic hepatitis infection.

Symptoms of viral hepatitis

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea/ vomiting
  • Pale stool
  • Dark urine
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Jaundice- yellow skin and eyes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Itching

Prevention of viral hepatitis

  • Avoid food and water prepared in unhygienic conditions
  • Do not share needles, razors, etc.
  • Be careful while handling blood, blood products, needles etc.
  • Get vaccinated against hepatitis A and hepatitis B. Vaccination against hepatitis B will also provide protection against hepatitis D.

Autoimmune Hepatitis
Liver inflammation is caused when your body’s immune system attacks your own liver cells. This is a chronic condition that has no cure. It has to be monitored for life and with treatment you can manage symptoms and prevent liver damage. This type of hepatitis can be kept under control with regular monitoring and life time treatment if diagnosed in early stages. Usually females are affected more than males.
There are no symptoms in most of the cases.
Symptoms of Autoimmune Hepatitis, when present, include:

  • Joint/ muscle pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea/ vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Jaundice- Yellow skin and eyes
  • Abnormal menstrual cycles

Prevention of Autoimmune Hepatitis
The cause of Autoimmune Hepatitis is not known. Genes may be responsible as in many cases it can be inherited from your parents. Certain medicines, stress or infections can also trigger your immune system to attack your liver. There is no way to prevent it, but you can manage it with proper medical care and lifestyle modifications, so you can lead a normal and healthy life.

Alcoholic Hepatitis
Alcoholic Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that is caused by drinking alcohol in excess for prolong period. It is not clear why all heavy drinkers do not develop alcoholic hepatitis and some people who drink moderately develop hepatitis. It is caused when the liver cells are damaged by toxins that are produced when your liver breaks down alcohol.

Risk factors that increase your chances of developing alcoholic hepatitis

  • Binge drinking- having five or more drinks within two hours  for men and four or more for women
  • Those who are drinking heavily since long times (>10 years)
  • Women are at more risk than men
  • Obesity increases risk
  • A genetic component may increase your risk

Symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis

  • Jaundice- yellow eyes and skin
  • Poor appetite
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Swelling over the legs and abdomen
  • Confusion, drowsiness
  • Anxiety, tremors

Prevention of alcoholic hepatitis

  • Avoid alcohol or limit intake of alcohol
  • Protect yourself from hepatitis B and C
  • Do not mix any medication and alcohol

Hepatitis, if left untreated will cause liver cell death and scarring leading to cirrhosis or liver cancer. Get tested if you have any symptom to treat hepatitis and prevent liver damage.

Contact Dr. Rela Hospital, one of the best liver care and liver transplant centres in the world. The best liver team, world class liver diagnosis and treatment and excellent all round care for all liver diseases are available under one roof.

Disclaimer: We recommend consulting a Doctor before taking any action based on the above shared information.


Chat with us!
Chat with us