Viral Hepatitis

Viral Hepatitis

What is hepatitis?

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. This inflammation can be acute (short term illness) or chronic (more than half a year of illness).

What causes hepatitis?

Hepatitis may occur as a result of viral infections, alcohol and other intoxicants or drugs. Most of the time there is talk of hepatitis, we refer to hepatitis caused by viruses, so we will focus only on viral hepatitis.

Acute hepatitis caused by viruses, is a generalized infection affecting, especially, liver. Almost all cases of acute viral infection of the liver, are produced by five microorganisms: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, hepatitis D and hepatitis E. Other viruses and microorganisms also cause inflammation of the liver. The most common are hepatitis caused by hepatitis viruses A, B and C.

When suspect hepatitis?

Although producers of the hepatitis virus differ from one another, they produce similar diseases from the clinical point of view. Its manifestations are varied ranging from one hand, produce no symptoms (infection passes unnoticed) and on the other hand, causes a disease that kills quickly. In its evolution, can behave like a persistent infection, which is only discovered when a blood test done and it does not cause any problems throughout life quickly or progress to cause liver cirrhosis (some cases of infection by hepatitis B or C).

The clinical signs most often raises suspicion of acute hepatitis is jaundice, which is the yellowing of the skin, mucous membranes and body fluids. This coloration is due to increased bilirubin in the body. The patient noted dark urine and sometimes feces color cast, a few days before the onset of jaundice.

Other symptoms that may precede jaundice include: tiredness, lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting, malaise or nonspecific muscle and joint pain.

Fever is more common in hepatitis A than in B or C. When jaundice appears, often reducing general symptoms that preceded it. The liver is enlarged and there may be pain and discomfort in the liver.

How do you establish the medical diagnosis of hepatitis?

The doctor makes the diagnosis of hepatitis when laboratory abnormalities are referring to inflammation of the liver. The most frequent alterations are an increase in transaminases and bilirubin.

To find out what virus causes hepatitis certain studies are performed from the blood, called serology. Specific test is performed in front of each virus, it is analyzed the presence in serum of antibodies to the virus or the presence of certain antigens (components of viruses that produce antibodies). Occasionally also necessary to consider whether the blood is the virus’s genetic material.

What become chronic hepatitis?

Hepatitis B and C. Hepatitis A never becomes chronic, although a small proportion of patients relapse occurs the same. Hepatitis C, more often than B, it becomes chronic. In some studies the frequency of acute hepatitis C progresses to chronic reaches 70%. Acute hepatitis B becomes chronic hepatitis in a small proportion of acute cases, but is more common in subjects with chronic infection without suffering acute illness.

What is the most important problem of chronic hepatitis?

The biggest problem is that it becomes liver cirrhosis, in turn, liver cirrhosis may favor the development of liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma).

What is the treatment of hepatitis?

The majority of acute hepatitis do not require hospitalization. The patient should remain at home certain hygiene measures. It is not necessary to isolate the patient, among other reasons, because most often occurs infectiousness before diagnosis. It is recommended that patients with hepatitis sleep in a single room and the bed linen and flatware that are collected and washed used separately. The grooming material must be unique for each patient.

You should rest in bed in the period of maximum physical exertion, but is then unnecessary.

The diet is not as important as was believed in the past. The diet should be balanced and it must avoid foods that the patient does not tolerate, like fat, especially animal if, when the patient has poor appetite, nausea and diarrhea present after ingestion. It is advisable to dispense alcohol for six months.

Hepatoprotective drugs or vitamins or liver extracts did not influence the evolution of acute hepatitis. It is important for the patient’s peace of mind, knowing that most cases of acute viral hepatitis heal by themselves.

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