Hepatitis – causes, side effects and treatments at NaturalPedia.com

Friday, April 27, 2018 by

Hepatitis, strictly speaking, refers to any inflammation of the liver. Depending on the condition, it can either be self-limiting or develop into severe complications such as scarring, cirrhosis, or even liver cancer. Most people know hepatitis viruses to be a common cause of hepatitis, but certain substances such as alcohol, medication, and autoimmune diseases can also lead to the condition.

There are five main hepatitis viruses, all of which cause liver disease but in varying degrees. These viruses are the also the greatest cause of concern in terms of illness and death, as well as incidences of outbreak and spread. Of these five, types B and C are the most common causes of hepatitis: They have infected hundreds of millions of people the world over and are the leading causes of liver cirrhosis and cancer.

A person gets infected with types B, C, and D through exposure to contaminated blood and equipment, transfer from mother to baby at birth, and also by sexual contact. Types A and E, on the other hand, are transmitted through contaminated food and drink.

The most common forms of hepatitis include the following.

  • Hepatitis A is an acute infection that comes from consuming food and drink that have been contaminated with the hepatitis A virus.
  • Hepatitis B is a viral infection caused by exposure to infected blood, semen, and other body fluids. The disease is common in areas including sub-Saharan Africa, parts of Asia, and the Pacific Islands.
  • Hepatitis C is one of the most chronic viral infections in the U.S., with figures reaching as high as 2.7 million to 3.9 million infected people. The condition is spread through blood-to-blood contact with an infected person.
  • Hepatitis D is a viral condition that affects people who have been infected with hepatitis B, and it can lead to conditions such as cirrhosis and liver cancer.
  • Hepatitis E is an infection brought about by eating contaminated food items or undercooked meat and shellfish.

Other forms of hepatitis are not brought about by viral infections. Alcoholic hepatitis, for one, is the inflammation of the liver brought about by chronic consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol. Autoimmune hepatitis, on the other hand, is a condition where the immune system attacks and damages the liver, causing it to be inflamed. In some cases, this can cause the organ to stop functioning properly.

Known risk factors and symptoms of hepatitis

There are some cases where hepatitis is asymptomatic. However, when signs and symptoms occur, these may cause the following:

  • A loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dark-colored urine and pale bowel movements
  • Pain in the stomach
  • Yellowing of skin and eyes, a condition called jaundice

There are some cases where hepatitis is mild and goes away by itself; however, some are serious and can lead to scarring of the liver and even liver cancer.

Body systems affected by hepatitis

Hepatitis, in general, can potentially lead to the following complications:

  • Toxic injury to the liver (hepatic necrosis)
  • Long-term hepatitis
  • Late-stage scarring of the liver (cirrhosis)
  • Failure of liver function (hepatic failure)

For people affected by types B and C, the risk of getting hepatocellular carcinoma increases as well.

Food items or nutrients that may prevent or relieve hepatitis

While there is little research to go by on the effects of natural or herbal treatments on hepatitis, according to RaySahelian.com, there are possible herbs that may prove beneficial in treating the condition.

  • Cartenine is proven to lessen the fatigue brought about by hepatitis C.
  • Silymarin from the milk thistle plant has been used to treat liver diseases in traditional medical systems. According to studies, it protects liver cells and contains anti-inflammatory and regenerative properties which can protect against some types of hepatitis.
  • Carotenoids in vegetables have been found to benefit the liver, according to a study.

Treatment and management options for hepatitis

Treating hepatitis differs depending on the severity of the condition. In acute viral hepatitis, recommended treatment options include adequate rest, addressing symptoms, and regular fluid intake. Chronic cases of hepatitis, however, require intensive medication to eliminate the virus and procedures to prevent further damage to the liver.

Where to learn more

Summary

Hepatitis refers to any inflammation of the liver, which can either be self-limiting or develop into severe complications such as scarring, cirrhosis, or even liver cancer. Most people know hepatitis viruses to be a common cause of hepatitis, but certain substances such as alcohol, medication, and autoimmune diseases can also lead to the condition.

There are some cases where hepatitis is asymptomatic. However, when signs and symptoms occur, these may cause loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and even yellowing of skin and eyes or jaundice.

Treating hepatitis differs depending on the severity of the condition. In acute viral hepatitis, recommended treatment options include adequate rest, addressing symptoms, and regular fluid intake. Chronic cases of hepatitis, however, require intensive medication to eliminate the virus and procedures to prevent further damage to the liver.

Sources include:

WHO.int

NHS.uk

MedLinePlus.gov

eMedicine.Medscape.com

RaySahelian.com

MedicineNet.com



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