What is hepatitis?
Hepatitis means there is inflammation (titis) in the liver (hepat). It can be caused by various factors, including viral infections, excessive alcohol consumption, autoimmune diseases, certain medications, and toxins. When the liver becomes inflamed, it may not function properly, leading to a range of health issues.
Viral hepatitis is one of the most common causes of hepatitis and is caused by specific viruses that specifically target the liver. The most common types of viral hepatitis are:
Hepatitis A (HAV)
Transmitted through contaminated food or water, hepatitis A is typically a short-term infection and doesn’t lead to chronic liver disease.
Hepatitis B (HBV)
It spreads through contact with infected blood, body fluids, or from mother to child during childbirth. Hepatitis B can lead to both acute and chronic infections, potentially resulting in serious liver complications.
Hepatitis C (HCV)
Mostly transmitted through contact with infected blood, HCV can cause chronic liver disease and, in some cases, lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Hepatitis D (HDV)
This is a rare type of hepatitis that only occurs in individuals who are already infected with hepatitis B. HDV can worsen the outcome of hepatitis B infection.
Hepatitis E (HEV)
Similar to hepatitis A, it is transmitted through contaminated food or water. In most cases, hepatitis E is an acute infection and does not cause chronic liver disease.
The symptoms of hepatitis may vary depending on the type and severity of the infection. Common symptoms include fatigue, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.
It’s essential to seek medical attention if you suspect you have hepatitis or experience any symptoms related to liver inflammation. Early diagnosis and proper management can prevent further complications and help promote recovery. Hepatitis vaccination is available for hepatitis A and hepatitis B and is recommended for individuals at risk.
If you think you might have hepatitis, you can ring the National Hepatitis Infoline on 1800 437 222, or visit a doctor.