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Hepatitis

 

Hepatitis is swelling and inflammation of the liver.

Causes

Hepatitis can be caused by:

  • Immune cells in the body attacking the liver
  • Infections from viruses (such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C), bacteria, or parasites
  • Liver damage from alcohol or poison
  • Medicines, such as an overdose of acetaminophen
  • Fatty liver

Liver disease can also be caused by inherited disorders such as cystic fibrosis or hemochromatosis, a condition that involves having too much iron in your body.

Other causes include Wilson's disease, a disorder in which the body retains too much copper.

Symptoms

 

Hepatitis may start and get better quickly. It may also become a long-term condition. In some cases, hepatitis may lead to liver damage, liver failure, or even liver cancer.

There are several factors that can affect how severe the condition is. . These may include the cause of the liver damage and any illnesses you have. Hepatitis A, for example, is most often short-term and does not lead to chronic liver problems.

The symptoms of hepatitis include:

  • Pain or bloating in the belly area
  • Dark urine and pale or clay-colored stools
  • Fatigue
  • Low fever
  • Itching
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight loss

You may not have symptoms when first infected with hepatitis B or C. You can still develop liver failure later. If you have any risk factors for either type of hepatitis, you should be tested often.

 

Exams and Tests

 

You will have a physical exam to look for:

  • Enlarged and tender liver
  • Fluid in the abdomen (ascites)
  • Yellowing of the skin

You may have lab tests to diagnose and monitor your condition, including:

  • Ultrasound of the abdomen
  • Autoimmune blood markers
  • Blood tests to diagnose Hepatitis A, B, or C
  • Liver function tests
  • Liver biopsy to check for liver damage
  • Paracentesis (if fluid is in your abdomen)

 

Treatment

 

Your health care provider will talk to you about treatment options. Treatments will vary, depending on the cause of your liver disease. You may need to eat a high-calorie diet if you are losing weight.

 

Support Groups

 

There are support groups for people with all types of hepatitis. These groups can help you learn about the latest treatments and how to cope with having the disease.

 

Outlook (Prognosis)

 

The outlook for hepatitis will depend on what is causing the liver damage.

 

Possible Complications

 

Complications may include:

  • Permanent liver damage, called cirrhosis
  • Liver failure
  • Liver cancer

 

When to Contact a Medical Professional

 

Seek care immediately if you:

  • Have symptoms from too much acetaminophen or other medicines. You may need to have your stomach pumped
  • Vomit blood
  • Have bloody or tarry stools
  • Are confused or delirious

Call your health care provider if:

  • You have any symptoms of hepatitis or believe that you have been exposed to hepatitis A, B, or C.
  • You cannot keep food down due to excessive vomiting. You may need to receive nutrition through a vein (intravenously).
  • You feel sick and have travelled to Asia, Africa, South America, or Central America.

 

Prevention

 

Talk to your provider about having a vaccine to prevent hepatitis A and hepatitis B.

Steps for preventing the spread of hepatitis B and C from one person to another include:

  • Avoid sharing personal items, such as razors or toothbrushes.
  • DO NOT share drug needles or other drug equipment (such as straws for snorting drugs).
  • Clean blood spills with a mixture of 1 part household bleach to 9 parts water.
  • DO NOT get tattoos or body piercings with instruments that have not been cleaned properly.

To reduce your risk of spreading or catching hepatitis A:

  • Always wash your hands well after using the restroom, and when you come in contact with an infected person's blood, stools, or other bodily fluid.
  • Avoid unclean food and water.

 

 

References

Czaja AJ. Autoimmune hepatitis. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 90.

Pawlotsky J-M. Chronic viral and autoimmune hepatitis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 149.

Sjogren MH, Bassett JT. Hepatitis A. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 78.

Sorrell MF, Belongia EA, Costa J, et al. National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Conference Statement: management of hepatitis B. Ann Intern Med. 2009;150(2):104-110. Epub 2009 Jan 5. PMID: 19124811 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19124811.

Wedemeyer H. Hepatitis C. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 80.

Wells JT, Perrillo R. Hepatitis B. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 79.

Yee HS, Chang MF, Pocha C, et al. Update on the management and treatment of hepatitis C virus infection: recommendations from the Department of Veterans Affairs Hepatitis C Resource Center Program and the National Hepatitis C Program Office. Am J Gastroenterol. 2012;107(5):669-689. PMID: 22525303 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22525303.

 
  • Hepatitis B virus

    Hepatitis B virus - illustration

    Hepatitis B is also known as serum hepatitis and is spread through blood and sexual contact. It is seen with increased frequency among intravenous drug users who share needles and among the homosexual population. This photograph is an electronmicroscopic image of hepatitis B virus particles. (Image courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

    Hepatitis B virus

    illustration

  • Hepatitis C

    Hepatitis C - illustration

    Hepatitis C is a virus-caused liver inflammation which may cause jaundice, fever and cirrhosis. Persons who are most at risk for contracting and spreading hepatitis C are those who share needles for injecting drugs and health care workers or emergency workers who may be exposed to contaminated blood.

    Hepatitis C

    illustration

  • Gianotti-Crosti syndrome on the leg

    Gianotti-Crosti syndrome on the leg - illustration

    Gianotti-Crosti disease is also called acrodermatitis of childhood. These red, elevated lesions do not contain pus and can occur on the limbs, buttocks, face, and neck.

    Gianotti-Crosti syndrome on the leg

    illustration

  • Liver anatomy

    Liver anatomy - illustration

    The liver serves a wide variety of body functions, including detoxifying blood and producing bile that aids in digestion.

    Liver anatomy

    illustration

    • Hepatitis B virus

      Hepatitis B virus - illustration

      Hepatitis B is also known as serum hepatitis and is spread through blood and sexual contact. It is seen with increased frequency among intravenous drug users who share needles and among the homosexual population. This photograph is an electronmicroscopic image of hepatitis B virus particles. (Image courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

      Hepatitis B virus

      illustration

    • Hepatitis C

      Hepatitis C - illustration

      Hepatitis C is a virus-caused liver inflammation which may cause jaundice, fever and cirrhosis. Persons who are most at risk for contracting and spreading hepatitis C are those who share needles for injecting drugs and health care workers or emergency workers who may be exposed to contaminated blood.

      Hepatitis C

      illustration

    • Gianotti-Crosti syndrome on the leg

      Gianotti-Crosti syndrome on the leg - illustration

      Gianotti-Crosti disease is also called acrodermatitis of childhood. These red, elevated lesions do not contain pus and can occur on the limbs, buttocks, face, and neck.

      Gianotti-Crosti syndrome on the leg

      illustration

    • Liver anatomy

      Liver anatomy - illustration

      The liver serves a wide variety of body functions, including detoxifying blood and producing bile that aids in digestion.

      Liver anatomy

      illustration

    A Closer Look

     

    Talking to your MD

     

      Self Care

       

      Tests for Hepatitis

       

       

      Review Date: 1/28/2016

      Reviewed By: Subodh K. Lal, MD, gastroenterologist at Gastrointestinal Specialists of Georgia, Austell, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

      The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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