Hepatitis - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
What is hepatitis?
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, usually caused by a viral infection. The liver is responsible for filtering out from the bloodstream harmful substance such as dead cells, toxins, fats, an overabundance of hormones and a yellowish substance called billirubin that is a byproduct of the breakdown of old red blood cells. If liver is inflamed, tender, and enlarged, it becomes unable to function normally. As a result, toxins that would normally be filtered out by the liver build up in the body, and certain nutrients are not processed and stored as they should be.
Information on the hepatitis symptoms
The symptoms of hepatitis include fever, weakness, nausea, vomiting, headache, appetite loss, muscle aches, joint pains, drowsiness, dark urine, light-colored stools, abdominal discomfort, and often, jaundice (yellowing of the skin due to an accumulation of bilirubin) and elevated liver enzymes in the blood. Flu like symptoms may be mild or severe.
Types of hepatitis
There are different types of hepatitis, classified according to the virus that causes the condition. Scientists have identified the viruses responsible for three leading types of the disease, called hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. There are also other, less common types known as hepatitis D, hepatitis E, and hepatitis G. All are contagious to some extent.
Hepatitis A, also known as infectious hepatitis, is easily spread through person-to-person contact, fecal contamination of food or water, and raw shellfish taken from polluted water. It is contagious between two to three weeks before, and one week after, jaundice appears.
Hepatitis B, also referred to as serum hepatitis, is spread through contact with infected blood (for example, from mother to child at birth or through the use of contaminated syringes, needles, and transfused blood) from adults to children living together in close contact, through sexual activity, and through blood transfusions. Most people-75 percent-recover from hepatitis B, although 25 percent go on to develop cirrhosis or cancer of the liver.
Hepatitis C, the most serious form of hepatitis, accounts for 8,000 to 10,000 deaths a year in America. It is estimated that 4 million Americans are infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) and this disease is the primary reason for liver transplants in this country. Hepatitis C is four times more prevalent than AIDS and twenty times easier to catch. About 85 percent of infections lead to chronic liver disease. The virus causes slowly progressing but ultimately devastating damage to the liver. In addition, people with HCV often have elevated levels of iron in the liver. This also can cause liver damage. Tests can detect HCV antibodies in donated blood, but an infected individual may take up to six months to develop the antibodies, so it is still impossible to identify all infected blood. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains that only 7 percent of current hepatitis C cases were acquired as a result of blood transfusions, and that the risk of contacting the virus from a unit of blood is about 1 in 100,000. The incidence of hepatitis C infection from blood transfusions or the use of blood products has decreased since 1992, when screening was introduced, but there is always a risk-and the lack of testing before 1992 has left a huge legacy of HVC-infected people. The most common means of HCV transmission after blood transfusions before 1992 are sharing needles, intravenous drug use, and sexual contact. HCV can also be transmitted from mother to child during childbirth.
Hepatitis D, or delta hepatitis, occurs in some people already infected with hepatitis B. It is the least common of all the hepatitis viruses, but the most serious because there are two types of hepatitis working together. It can be transmitted through sexual contact or from mother to child at birth.
Hepatitis E is rare in the United States, but more common in other parts of the world, notably Mexico, India, and Asian and African countries. It is usually spread through fecal contamination and appears to be dangerous for pregnant women, but generally does not lead to chronic hepatitis in others.
It is also possible to develop hepatitis as a result of exposure to certain toxins or alcohol or drug use, including the overuse of over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. This is called toxic hepatitis. Environmental toxins absorbed through the skin can also damage the liver. Chlorinated hydrocarbons and arsenic are examples of severe hepatotoxic agents. In toxic hepatitis, the amount of exposure to the toxin determines the extent of liver damage.
Natural home remedies for the treatment of hepatitis
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