Overview of Hepatitis

Hepatitis E is a severe disease that affects the liver of a person and is caused by a small virus called HEV or hepatitis E virus. Found worldwide, Hepatitis E is most common in East and South Asia. The hepatitis E virus is transmitted mainly through contamination of drinking water by stools of infected persons; therefore, people with poor sanitation are at a higher risk of developing the disease. Due to poor hygiene, the hepatitis E virus from stools of infected people often contaminates drinking water or enters the food chain. While the disease is self-limiting, a large number of people with a suppressed immune system need some medical assistance.

However, hepatitis can occur in any season, but in the summer and monsoon season, the cases of hepatitis are increasing with bacterial growth and polluted food.

Causes of Hepatitis

Hepatitis A and E are usually consumed by contaminated water and food intake. Hepatitis B, C, and D are generally exposed to the person infected with urine, blood or other substances. Hepatitis also occurs with the use of infected blood, blood products or contaminated sugars or other infectious therapeutic products.

Apart from this, hepatitis B can also spread to the child from the infected mother. Apart from this, the Hepatitis B virus is also spread by physical infection. Long-term drinking addiction can also cause Hepatitis. Hepatitis D is for patients who already suffer from hepatitis B.

Symptoms of Hepatitis

Symptoms of hepatitis depend on the cause and the seriousness of the condition. It may vary in severe cases, but in mild cases, a person may show common fever-like symptoms:
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Mild fever 
  • Fatigue 
  • Pain in the right abdomen 
  • Muscle and joint pain 
In severe cases, symptoms may include:
  • Bleeding inside the body 
  • Jaundice 
  • Light-coloured stools 
  • Dark urine 
  • Coma

Types of Hepatitis

Hepatitis A 

Hepatitis A is the virus found in the stool (faeces) of people with hepatitis A (HAV) infection. People with HAV infection become contagious early in the incubation period and can start spreading the disease even before they develop symptoms. A person remains contagious for about 7-8 days after developing jaundice (that is yellow discolouration of the skin or eyes).

HAV infection is most commonly transmitted from one person to other by the faecal-oral route. That is it spreads through food or water contaminated with the faeces of an affected person. Poor sanitation is the most common cause of spread or outbreak of HAV infection.

Hepatitis B 

Hepatitis B can go undetected for decades before permanent damage is done. One can get infected through blood, saliva, semen, unprotected sex and from mother to fetus. Sharing the razor can also put a person at risk of developing hepatitis B as most people tend to bleed during shaving. The blood on the blade dries off, but the virus can live up to seven days.

Hepatitis C 

This deadly virus can go undetected for up to 20 years and can lead to fibrosis, chronic cirrhosis and scarring of the liver. Transmission of infected blood mainly causes this disease. The unsterilised needle is another route of transmission of hepatitis C.

Hepatitis D

This is a very serious transmitted through direct contact with an infected person’s blood. It is a rare form of hepatitis and only occurs in conjunction with hepatitis B infection. The best way to prevent hepatitis D is to get vaccinated for hepatitis B because only those who have been infected by hepatitis B can get infected with hepatitis D. 

Hepatitis E 

This virus can get transmitted through the oral route. A person can get infected by drinking water that contains the hepatitis E virus. Hepatitis A and E are curable and does not lead to any chronic disease. 

Diagnosis of Hepatitis

Hepatitis (that is an infection in the liver) is suspected based on medical history, signs and symptoms, and physical examination. If you have symptoms suggestive of liver infection your doctor will recommend tests to diagnose the cause of disease (as signs and symptoms of the most common cause of hepatitis are similar).

Hepatitis can be detected by examining the function of the liver. Your blood is checked for this. If there is any difficulty in the function of the liver, then the doctor may ask you for other blood tests, which is necessary to detect the causes of hepatitis. Apart from this, it can also be detected by stomach ultrasound and liver biopsy.

Prevention of Hepatitis

There is no definitive drug for the treatment of hepatitis A and E. Since both of these types of Hepatitis are in the beginning, they are not very dangerous and can be controlled with medicines. These two Hepatitis treatments are based on symptoms. For example, the medication is given separately for fever and separately for stomach pain.

Contact the doctor immediately after symptoms appear. Vaccines are available only to prevent hepatitis A and B. In addition to having Hepatitis C, D and E, therapists treat you by hospitalisation. The physician should immediately contact the patient in case any symptoms associated with hepatitis occur as the risk of treatment increases many times due to the risk.

Other ways to protect you from a hepatitis infection include: 

  • Use protection while getting intimate with someone
  • Avoid sharing drugs needles or other equipment 
  • Avoid sharing anything that might be contaminated with blood, including personal items such as a razor, toothbrush, fingernail clippers, etc. 
  • If you are a health worker, follow standard precautions such as wearing gloves and safely handle needles and sharp objects
  • If you wish to get tattoos or body piercings, ensure that they are using sterile tools