Swelling or inflammation of the liver is described as hepatitis. This happens when the liver has been exposed to substances which can harm it such as alcohol or an effect from a viral infection.
There are other types of hepatitis that may afflict, but will not permanently damage the liver.
Other types can last for many years leading to liver scarring such as cirrhosis. In serious health conditions, it may cause liver failure or liver function loss or liver cancer which could eventually lead to death. These long-lasting types of hepatitis are referred to as chronic hepatitis.
The first symptoms of hepatitis that is developed by infection could be compared to symptoms of the flu:
- Jaundice which is yellowing of the skin and eyes
- Joint and muscle pain
- Being sick
- High fever
- Feeling sick
When it is already chronic hepatitis, these will be the symptoms:
- A sense of being unwell
- Extreme fatigue all the time
In most cases, there are hardly noticeable symptoms in cases of hepatitis which could make infected people unaware that they have it.
Types of hepatitis
The most common viral hepatitis, it is caused by the virus from hepatitis A. It is very common in places where there are poor sewage and sanitation disposals.
You can also become infected when travelling to countries where hepatitis A occurs frequently.
Eating or drinking something contaminated with the feces from hepatitis A infected people will transmit the infection.
After three months, symptoms and infection will go away. There is no special treatment program for hepatitis A except to provide relief from the symptoms.
The best protection against hepatitis A is vaccination. It is highly recommended if you plan to travel to countries where hepatitis A is common.
The hepatitis B virus causes hepatitis B. This can be found in body and blood fluids, such as vaginal fluids and semen, so it can be transmitted during birth from an infected mother, unprotected sex and needle-sharing when drugs are injected.
It is a fairly uncommon infection that is usually confined to groups such as users of drugs. Most people could fight off the virus and recover fully after a few months. However, some people develop chronic hepatitis B which could lead to liver cancer and cirrhosis.
Hepatitis B vaccination is available for protection and prevention. It is recommended for high-risk people such as healthcare workers and drug users that inject drugs.
Found in the blood and, to some degree, in the vaginal fluid, semen, and saliva of an infected person, the hepatitis C virus causes hepatitis C.
Blood-to-blood contact is the usual spread of the infection since the hepatitis C virus is concentrated in the blood.
It is commonly spread by sharing needles among drug users when injecting drugs. It does not show any symptoms which are the main reason why people are unaware that they have the infection.
Only a few people will be able to ward off the infection and become free of the virus. In most people, it will develop into chronic hepatitis C leading to liver failure and cirrhosis.