What is Viral Hepatitis?
Viral hepatitis accounts for more than 50% of cases of acute hepatitis cases in the United States.
Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver cells caused by various reasons including:
Infectious: caused from viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic organisms), and
Noninfectious: resulting from an overdose of alcohol, drugs, autoimmune diseases, and metabolic diseases.
Viral hepatitis is caused by an infection resulting in liver inflammation and damage. The swelling or inflammation occurs when tissues of the body become injured or infected and can also damage organs. Inflammation can damage organs. There are several different viruses discovered by the researchers that cause hepatitis, including hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E.
In the United States, viral hepatitis is commonly caused by:
Hepatitis A virus (HAV),
Hepatitis B virus (HBV), and
Hepatitis C virus (HCV).
These three viruses can cause acute disease with symptoms of nausea, abdominal pain, fatigue, malaise, and jaundice.
Hepatitis A is the most contagious and short-term liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). People suffering from hepatitis A may feel sick for a few weeks to several months. The people would usually recover completely and do not have lasting liver damage. Rarely, hepatitis A can cause liver failure and even death. Hepatitis A is more common in older people and people having serious health issues including chronic liver disease.
This virus is present in the stool and blood of infected people. The hepatitis A virus spreads through ingestion of the virus (even in amounts too small to notice) through:
Person-to-person contact: The virus can spread from close, personal contact with an infected person, like types of sexual contact, caring for someone who is ill, or using drugs with others.
Eating contaminated food or drink: Hepatitis A virus contamination of food can happen at any stage like growing, harvesting, processing, handling, and even after cooking. Foodborne outbreaks have occurred in the United States due to eating contaminated fresh and frozen imported food products.
You are at high risk of Hepatitis A infection if:
You are an international traveler.
Men having sex with men.
You use or inject drugs.
You anticipate close personal contact with an international adoptee.
You experiencing homelessness.
Some people are at increased risk due to severe disease when suffering from hepatitis A infection:
People with chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
People with HIV.
Symptoms of Hepatitis A :
Yellow skin or eyes
Not wanting to eat
Dark urine or light-colored stools
The hepatitis B virus (HBV) causes hepatitis B, which is a serious liver infection. This is often an ongoing, chronic condition that lasts more than six months. Chronic hepatitis B increases your risk of developing liver failure, liver cancer, or cirrhosis that may permanently scar your liver.
There is no cure if you are infected with the Hepatitis B virus, but it can be prevented by the vaccine. Certain precautions would reduce the spread of the virus if you're infected.
The virus is passed through blood, semen, or other body fluids and not through sneezing or coughing. Some of the common ways are:
Sexual contact: Unprotected sex with someone who is infected increases the risk of the virus. The virus can easily pass if the infected person's blood, saliva, semen, or vaginal secretions enter your body.
Sharing of needles: Sharing needles and syringes especially IV drug paraphernalia, contaminated with infected blood puts you at high risk of hepatitis B.
Accidental needle sticks: This is a concern for health care workers and anyone else who comes in contact with human blood.
Mother to child: Pregnant women can pass the HBV virus to their babies during childbirth. Vaccinating the newborn can avoid getting infected in almost all cases.
Symptoms Of Hepatitis B :
Loss of appetite
Nausea and vomiting
Weakness and fatigue
Yellowing of your skin
Whites of your eyes
Hepatitis C is a viral infection caused by the Hepatitis C virus causing liver inflammation. This would sometimes lead to serious liver damage.
The virus spreads through contaminated blood with the virus entering the bloodstream of an uninfected person. People usually don’t know about the infection as there are no symptoms. With the advancement in medicine, chronic HCV is curable with the help of oral medications within two to six months.
The virus can easily spread by:
Birth to a Hepatitis C infected mother.
Sex with an HCV-infected person.
Sharing personal items contaminated with infectious blood, like razors or toothbrushes.
Receiving donated blood, blood products.
Needle-stick injuries in healthcare settings.
Symptoms Of Hepatitis C :
Chronic hepatitis C or long-term infection is usually a "silent" infection for many years. The virus may become active and damages the liver for the signs and symptoms to develop. These include:
Yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
Fluid buildup in your abdomen (ascites)
Swelling in your legs
Confusion, drowsiness, and slurred speech (hepatic encephalopathy).
Spider-like blood vessels on your skin (spider angiomas).
Hepatitis D is caused only to people who are infected by the hepatitis B virus. You are protected from Hepatitis D virus or hepatitis delta virus (HDV) if you are vaccinated against hepatitis B.
It can lead to serious symptoms causing lifelong liver damage and even death. This is the most severe form of Hepatitis infection.
Hepatitis D is caused due to contact with the blood or other body fluid of people infected with it. This would infect you only if you have hepatitis B as it needs the “B” strain of hepatitis to survive.
Symptoms Of Hepatitis D :
Yellow skin and eyes (jaundice)
Pain in your belly
Not feeling hungry
Hepatitis D virus can worsen the symptoms of Hepatitis B infection.
Hepatitis E is a virus infecting your liver causing it to swell up. This virus is chiefly transmitted through drinking water contaminated with fecal matter. Hepatitis E can also spread if you eat undercooked meat from infected animals, such as pigs or deer.
Symptoms Of Hepatitis E :
Feeling very tired or fatigued
Feeling sick to your stomach
Skin rash or itching
Yellowish skin or eyes
Rarely, the hepatitis E infection can lead to acute liver failure.
Vaccination is the best way to prevent any viral hepatitis infections. Vaccines are available for hepatitis A and hepatitis B in the U.S. But, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C. Since hepatitis D can happen only if you have hepatitis B, getting the vaccine against B should protect you against hepatitis D. Although, there is no FDA approved vaccine against hepatitis E, however vaccines against hepatitis E exists in various countries such as China.
If you or anyone you know is suffering from viral hepatitis, our expert providers at ASP Cares will take care of your health and help you recover.
Call us on (210)-417-4567 to book an appointment with our specialists.