What is hepatitis and which hepatitis can be cured 100%?
Hepatitis or inflammation of the liver is one of the common diseases across the world. It is generally caused by viral infections and hampers the healthy hepatic working of the body. Hepatitis is of different kinds with viral hepatitis being the most popular one. It has five further subtypes i.e. A, B, C, D, and E. Among these 5, proper treatment is available for hepatitis B and C while the others being acute can be tackled by the immune system. Vaccinations are available for hepatitis A and B only.
What is hepatitis?
Hepatitis is a medical term used for the inflammation of the liver. The liver is one of the most important corporal organs of the human body. It is found in the upper right of the abdomen and performs exclusive metabolic functions like;
- Production of bile
- Filtration of toxins
- Excretion of bilirubin, cholesterol, and drugs
- Emulsification of fats and lipids
- Synthesis of essential proteins like albumins
- Formation of necessary clotting factors
Inflammation of such a vital organ is a very serious health concern because it can risk life in severe cases (CDC, 2019).
Kinds of hepatitis
Hepatitis has two major kinds depending on its initial cause. Mostly, viral infections trigger hepatitis giving rise to viral hepatitis which is further divided into 5 types. The second kind of hepatitis is non-infectious and a consequent result of excessive use of toxins, alcohol, drugs, and medicines. There may be a third, rare kind called autoimmune hepatitis which occurs due to unfavorable autoimmune responses when our body starts making antibodies against the liver tissues.
Viral hepatitis and its types
The five types of viral hepatitis include hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. Each of them is caused by a different virus and is thus associated with different health hazards. According to the CDC reports, around 4.4 million Americans are suffering from chronic hepatitis B and C. On the other hand, Hepatitis A and E are generally acute and short-lived. The following are some important key points regarding each type.
- Hepatitis A is caused by HAV (hepatitis A virus) and is commonly transmitted by consuming food and water which is contaminated by feces of an infected person.
- Hepatitis B as its name indicates is caused by HBV. It is usually transmitted via infectious fluids like blood, semen, and vaginal secretion. Using contaminated syringes and razors or sexual activities with an infected person can also cause the infection.
- Hepatitis C is caused by HCV and is the most dangerous kind of hepatitis. Its mode of transmission is almost the same as that of type B. It can be both acute and chronic. Plus, it is highly contagious with no vaccination yet.
- Hepatitis D is another serious type caused by HDV. It is very rare but highly contagious. It only occurs in combination with hepatitis B because HDV cannot replicate without HBV. Hepatitis B can be treated by antiviral medications so the likelihood of hepatitis D is much alleviated if the infection by HBV is treated in time (Heidrich, Manns, & Wedemever, 2012).
- Hepatitis E is an outcome of HEV infection. It is generally acute but can be dangerous in pregnant women. It is a water-borne illness thus is mainly found in areas with poor sanitary systems.
Symptoms and diagnosis
The chronic stages of hepatitis develop slowly and are normally asymptomatic. They are most likely to occur in the case of type B and C only. Symptoms arise when liver functioning is notably affected. However, in the case of acute infections, the patient may observe the following symptoms;
- Dark urine
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Sudden weight loss
- Yellowing of skin and eyes
The condition can be diagnosed by physical examination, liver function tests, blood tests, ultrasound, and liver biopsy.
Which type of hepatitis can be treated 100%?
The treatment options of hepatitis depend upon whether the infection is acute or chronic. Hepatitis A, being acute and short-lived doesn't require treatment at all. People infected with HAV are recommended to take complete rest, stay hydrated, and eat healthy & nutritious food. A vaccine is available for the prevention of hepatitis A. Moving forward; acute hepatitis B doesn't require treatment while the chronic infection of HBV is treated with antiviral medications. It can be a costly treatment because it continues for months and sometimes years. Regular checkups are a must to monitor the progress. Three series prevent vaccine for HBV is also available (CDC, 2019).
Hepatitis C requires treatment for both acute and chronic stages. A combination of antiviral drugs therapies serves the purpose. Since hepatitis C is very dangerous it can lead to cirrhosis that is the scarring of the liver. In such a case, a liver transplant is an ultimate solution. Currently, there is no vaccine developed for HCV. Furthermore, hepatitis D can be prevented by the vaccine for type B as it occurs with hepatitis B. However, there are no antiviral medications available for hepatitis D. Alpha interferons have been used for the treatment against HDV but they have shown a success rate of 25-30 percent only. Similarly, no medicines are available for hepatitis E however it is often acute and thus can resolve on its own.
Viral hepatitis and autoimmune hepatitis can also be treated using corticosteroids and other immune suppressants (Cropley & Weltman, 2017).
Hepatitis is a serious health concern. Severe cases of the disease can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer which can be fatal. Moreover, hepatitis comes with additional complications like hypertension, kidney failure, and hepatic encephalopathy, etc (Heidelbaugh & Sherbondy, 2019). Therefore, it is advised to prevent it in the first place. Common preventive measures include special maintenance of hygiene. People should avoid consuming contaminated foods and water. Waste products should be disposed of properly. Try not to use contaminated medical equipments like injections or syringes, razors, etc. A healthy diet promotes strong immunity which strengthens our body to fight against diseases. Thus, make sure you are eating right!
Always remember that prevention is better than cure so it’s better to keep these foreign agents at bay than to suffer later.
CDC. (2019, August 2). Hepatitis B and the Vaccine (Shot).
Cropley, A., & Weltman, M. (2017). The use of immunosuppression in autoimmune hepatitis: A current literature review. Clinical and Molecular Hepatology, 23(1), 22–26.
Heidelbaugh, J. J., & Sherbondy, M. (2019). Cirrhosis and Chronic Liver Failure: Part II. Complications and Treatment. American Family Physician, 74(5), 767–776.
Heidrich, B., Manns, M. P., & Wedemeyer, H. (2012). Treatment Options for Hepatitis Delta Virus Infection. Current Infectious Disease Reports, 15(1), 31–38.
CDC-Hepatitis-Did You Know-STLT Gateway. (2019, November 12).