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Common Liver Diseases
Hepatitis | Viral Hepatitis | Alcoholic liver disease | Liver Diet | Liver Cancer | Biliary disease | Other/metabolic
diseases | Acute liver failure
There are two types of Hepatitis:
Acute hepatitis - meaning the new onset of Hepatitis
Chronic hepatitis - meaning the Hepatitis has been present for more than 6 months
What is acute hepatitis?
Acute Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver
that results in liver cell damage and destruction. Acute hepatitis
is quite common: whereas one in every 4000 people develop acute
hepatitis every year in developed countries, this figure may be
5 times higher in developing countries.
Acute Hepatitis Causes
Common causes of acute hepatitis may include:
Acute Hepatitis Symptoms
- Infection with a virus (viral hepatitis A, B, C, D, or E)
- Overdose of drugs (such as acetaminophen, paracetamol)
- Chemical exposure (such as dry cleaning chemicals, and some
Acute hepatitis usually starts with flu-like symptoms. The
following are the most common symptoms of acute hepatitis. However,
each individual may experience different symptoms such as, jaundice,
nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fever, tenderness in the right
upper part of the tummy (abdomen), sore muscles, joint pain and
itchy red hives on skin.
The symptoms of acute hepatitis may resemble other
conditions or medical problems. A physician must be contacted for
Acute Hepatitis Diagnosis
In addition to a complete medical history and medical examination, diagnostic procedures for acute hepatitis may include
Acute Hepatitis Treatment
- Specific laboratory tests for virus detection,
- Liver function tests.
Treatment for acute hepatitis will be determined by your
physician based on the cause, severity, your underlying health and
whether there is any previous history of liver disease.
In general, most people recover without treatment. Severe acute
hepatitis may require hospitalization. People who have had acute
viral hepatitis may become chronic carriers of the disease in case
of Hepatitis B or C infection.
Some people do not recover fully from acute hepatitis and develop chronic hepatitis, as the liver continues to sustain more damage and inflammation. Hepatitis is considered chronic if symptoms persist longer than six months. Chronic hepatitis can last years.
What is chronic hepatitis?
Different forms of chronic hepatitis
Chronic Hepatitis Causes
- Alcohol-induced chronic hepatitis - continued damage throughout the liver from heavy alcohol consumption.
- Chronic active hepatitis - an aggressive inflammation and destroyer of liver cells, which may lead to cirrhosis.
- Chronic persistent hepatitis - a milder chronic inflammation of the liver, which usually does not lead to cirrhosis.
Certain viruses and drugs may cause chronic hepatitis in some people,
but not in others.
Common causes include:
Chronic Hepatitis Symptoms
- Viral hepatitis
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Autoimmune disorder (when the body attacks its own tissues)
- Reaction to certain medications especially those given for TB.
- Metabolic disorders (such as Hemochromatosis or Wilson's Disease)
Symptoms for chronic hepatitis are usually mild. Although
the liver damage continues, its progression is usually slow.
Some individuals may experience no symptoms, while others may experience
the following: feeling ill, poor appetite, fatigue, low fever, upper
abdominal pain, jaundice, symptoms of chronic liver disease (such
as enlarged spleen, spider-like blood vessels in skin and fluid
The symptoms of chronic hepatitis may resemble other
conditions or medical problems. A physician must be consulted for
Chronic Hepatitis Diagnosis
In addition to a complete medical history and medical examination,
diagnostic procedures for chronic hepatitis may include a) laboratory
tests for specific viruses, b) liver function tests or c) liver
biopsy to determine severity of inflammation, scarring, cirrhosis
and underlying cause.
Chronic Hepatitis Treatment
Specific treatment for chronic hepatitis will be determined
by your liver physician based on the cause, severity, your underlying
health and whether there is any previous history of liver disease.
The goal of treatment is to stop damage to the liver and alleviate
Treatment may include one/more of the following:
Antiviral Agents - When caused by Hepatitis
B or C, inflammation of the liver may be stopped with the injectable
antiviral drug interferon-alpha. In addition, in Hepatitis B, oral
anti-viral agents such as lamivudine or adefovir may be used, while
in Hepatitis C, ribavirin can be used.
Corticosteroids - Corticosteroids may be used
to treat chronic liver disease caused by an autoimmune disorder.
Inflammation is suppressed, but scarring of the liver may continue.
Discontinuation of certain drugs - When chronic
Hepatitis is caused by certain drugs, discontinuing those drugs
usually clears up any symptoms.
Discontinuance of alcohol - While this is essential
for recovery in alcohol induced chronic liver disease, it is also
highly advisable in Hepatitis C and other chronic diseases of the
Preventing the spread of viral hepatitis:
Proper hygiene is the key to preventing the
spread of many diseases, including Hepatitis. Other preventive measures
Vaccinations - A Hepatitis B vaccine is routinely
given to toddlers as part of their immunization schedule. A hepatitis
A vaccine is available for people at risk for contracting the disease
while traveling. (There are no vaccines for hepatitis C, D, or E
at this time.)
Blood transfusion - Blood products are routinely
screened for Hepatitis B and C, and HIV, to reduce the risk of infection
Antibody preparation - If a person has
been exposed to Hepatitis B, an antibody preparation can be administered
to help protect them from contracting the disease.
The prevention of Hepatitis B and C should be aimed
at the high risk groups and situations which are a) Unsafe
Blood transfusion, b) Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C in the family,
c) Surgical procedures or dental manipulation, d) intravenous drug
abuse, e) Unprotected sexual exposure, f) Dialysis, g) Medical or