Hepatitis is an infectious disease that develops due to an inflammation of the liver. The common cause for hepatitis is viral infection. There are six main types of viral hepatitis: A, B, C, D, E and G. The virus that causes the disease is considered one of the most dangerous types of viruses, since its speed of transmission from one person to another is faster than AIDS. However, the greatest risk lies in the delayed detection of the disease, which can lead to chronic damage to liver cells, either as a result of a viral infection, or an autoimmune disorder, or due to poisoning caused by the intake of double doses of drugs.
Hepatitis could be either acute in which the inflammation lasts for a short period (less than 6 months), or chronic where the inflammation may continue for more than 6 months.
It is possible to heal from hepatitis; however, it often worsens and develops into chronic inflammation, liver cirrhosis or acute liver failure.
The disease progression is affected by several factors, including the patient’s condition, age, other diseases, exposure to the same cause of the disease and type of hepatitis.
Below are types and causes for Hepatitis, as well as the possible symptoms.
Types of Viral Hepatitis:
There are six types of Hepatitis.
Hepatitis A (HAV):
This type of hepatitis is very common and is transmitted by consuming food or water contaminated by feces from a person infected with hepatitis A. Hepatitis A is not considered very dangerous. Signs and symptoms include: cold-like symptoms (fever, nausea, and vomiting, muscles pain and pain of joints), dark urine and anorexia.
Incubation period of the virus reaches up to 30 days. The patient may recover in a month or two.
Hepatitis B (HBV):
This type is transmits through puncture wounds or contact with infectious body fluids, such as blood, saliva, and semen, or by injection drug use, or having sex with an infected partner, or from a mother to a fetus. Hepatitis B is very dangerous. Incubation period of the virus ranges between 30-180 days. Signs and symptoms include fever, joint pain, rash and could develop into symptoms of clinical hepatitis.
Hepatitis C (HCV):
This type transmits through direct contact with infected body fluids, typically through injection drug use and sexual contact. Hepatitis C is the most dangerous of all. Incubation period of the virus reaches up to 50 days. Signs and symptoms include Fatigue and general weakness.
Hepatitis D (HDV):
This type transmits through puncture wounds or contact with infected blood. Hepatitis D is similar to Hepatitis B, the difference is in the incubation period of the virus which in this type ranges from 35-40 days. The patient could have either one or both at the same time. In case of double infection, treatment of Hepatitis D will depend on the treatment of Hepatitis B. Signs and symptoms include yellowing of skin and eyes (jaundice), joint pain, abdominal pains, vomiting, loss of appetite, dark urine and fatigue.
Hepatitis E (HEV):
This type is mainly found in areas with poor sanitation. This type mostly spreads in countries of east Asia, central Asia, south Africa, and central America. It is very dangerous to pregnant women because they may develop acute hepatic failure. Hepatitis E signs and symptoms include Jaundice, anorexia, hepatomegaly, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and fever.
Hepatitis G (HGV):
This type is closely related to Hepatitis C and the similarity of its signs, symptoms and ways of propagation, where its presence is considered an early sign of predicting C virus infection. The patient could get infection with both types at the same time. It may transmit from a pregnant mother to her fetus.
Causes for Hepatitis:
- Traveling to countries where people have hepatitis.
- Sexual intercourse is one of the common causes for hepatitis.
- Eating contaminated foods.
- Randomized intake of drugs (especially Paracetamol and Aspirin)
- Transfusion of contaminated blood.
- Using other people’s razor blade.
- Working in the medical field without taking the necessary vaccination.
Most people infected with hepatitis find out by chance through a blood test, because the they did not show any symptoms that may reveal its existence even though there are many. Including:
- Hyperthermia (high temperature).
- Loss of Appetite and also irregular weight loss.
- General weakness and fatigue.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Pains up the right side of the abdomen and a change in the color of stool.
- Jaundice- Yellowing of the eyes and mucous membrane.
- A pale face color.
- A dark colored urine.
- Muscle and joint pain.
- Enlargement of breast size in men.
- Water buildup in the abdomen.
- Common Clinical symptoms of Hepatitis are : liver enlargement (Hepatomegaly), spleen enlargement (splenomegaly), an increase in liver enzymes, also high bilirubin concentrations (Hyperbilirubinemia).