Hepatitis: Types, Symptoms, and Treatment
Working for 24 hours a day, weighing 1.4 kg, the heaviest organ in the body is our liver. To make an analogy with a factory, a liver acts as a storehouse, manufacturing hub, and as processing point. The reason of liver being the most crucial organ of the body is the innumerable subtasks that come under each of these main three functions. There is no chance of the working of our body without the liver.
Functionality of liver
- One of the liver’s main functions is to filter the blood which it receives from two sources: heart via the hepatic artery, intestine via the hepatic portal vein
- Due to this double flow of blood, the liver is filled with nutrients:
- The nutrients in the liver are sort, processed, and then stored with the help of innumerable internal lobules for future needs of the nutrients
- Blood flowing into the liver also contains toxins that are either converted into an ineffective product or isolated to be excreted
- As the liver also acts as a manufacturing hub,
- It produced various functioning blood plasma proteins that transport fatty acid and help information of blood clot
- Cholesterol helps in creating hormones
- Vitamin D
- The most important product of the liver is Bile is a bitter green liquid that is made from toxins by hepatocytes. After production, bile is stored into an organ called the gallbladder till it is passed into the intestine for, breakdown of fats and microbe destruction
This complex functioning organ needs to be kept healthy by not overloading it with more toxins than it can handle. If that happens, the liver will suffer from certain conditions and one of which is hepatitis.
Hepatitis simply is the condition when the liver gets inflamed. But as inflammation is only a symptom of injury or infection, hepatitis really is the disturbance in the functionality of the liver through swelling caused by:
- Autoimmune dysfunction
Viral hepatitis is the most common type of hepatitis which is further categorized into five subtypes depending upon the type of virus causing the condition; hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E.
Among these five Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C are the most common types of Viral Hepatitis.
Hepatitis A: It is usually a short-term infection that does not become chronic; it is caused by picornavirus which is a small RNA virus. It enters the blood through the oral pharynx or the epithelial lining of the intestine. The virus is released through the stool which is one of the routes of its spread. Other spreading routes of this virus are touch, flies, water, and food. The incubation period is one month. Vaccine and hand washing are advised for reducing the spread of hepatitis A
Hepatitis B: Caused by the HBV virus, Hepatitis B is a life-threatening disease. It can be developed into chronic infection by causing cirrhosis. The routes for the spread of Hepatitis B are drug abuse, sex, and contact with infectious surfaces. Vaccination is available for preventing the spread of this virus.
Hepatitis C: It is caused by the Hepatitis C virus. There is currently no vaccine available for hepatitis C which makes it more dangerous than others. It begins as an acute infection and 75% of the patients get this disease developed into a chronic state. Transmission of the virus causing this disease is due the same as Hepatitis B.
Hepatitis D: It is also known as Delta Hepatitis which is caused by Hepatitis Delta Virus. It is not the common type of Hepatitis as HDV requires HBV for replication. It can only affect some having HBV. This phenomenon is known as co-infection.
Hepatitis E: caused by HEV, it mainly causes jaundice in areas such as Egypt, Central America, and India. HEV virus is transmitted through; contaminated water, uncooked seafood (pork).
Globally 325 million people are currently living with Hepatitis B/C and for many of the treatment is not available. About 4 crore people in India are infected with chronic Hepatitis B and about 1.2 crores are chronically infected with Hepatitis C.
Rapid acute liver failure in response to the intake of alcohol is known as alcoholic hepatitis. It is actually a spectrum of intensifying diseases that can range from being mild to life-threatening. The treatment options for this type of hepatitis are unfortunately very limited such as giving IV steroids. In extreme cases, a liver transplant is the only option as the treatment
The reaction of the liver as inflammation to some specific substances is known as toxic hepatitis. Some of these substances are: – Drugs, chemicals, supplements, steroids, and alcohol. The appearance of signs and symptoms depends upon the type of toxin causing the disease.
- Autoimmune disease is a type of disease in which the body’s own immune cells try to neutralize the cells of the body. So, in Autoimmune Hepatitis the immune cells attack the healthy cells of the liver which results in its inflammation. The root cause of this disease is still vague, but it is believed to be a combination of environmental changes and some genetic predisposition. The population which is affected most y this disease tends to be young women where the female to male ratio is about 4:1. Autoimmune hepatitis tends to be associated with other diseases such as; Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Grave’s disease. The range of intensity of autoimmune hepatitis can range from being completely asymptomatic to cirrhosis. It can also cause certain conditions such as.
- Hepatosplenomegaly where the size of the liver as well as the spleen is way larger than the normal probably due to inflammation.
- Increase in blood Transaminases
Autoimmune hepatitis is of two types: Type 1 and Type 2. About 80 percent of cases of autoimmune hepatitis are of type 1.
For the treatment of autoimmune hepatitis, immunosuppressant medications are given to inhibit certain immune responses. Some of the immune repressors are corticosteroids and azathioprine. If a patient proves to be resistant to these drug therapies, they might have to go through a liver transplant.
For More information about Hepatitis visit the best gastroenterologist.