What are the main causes of Hepatitis?
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver tissue that can lead to liver damage, including diffuse or patchy liver necrosis. One of the main causes of hepatitis is viral infection. There are other causes such as toxic hepatitis, hepatitis related to medication or acute alcohol consumption. In the case of viral infection, some people develop acute hepatitis that is self-limiting and resolved with time. Some people develop chronic hepatitis. Patients with chronic hepatitis need special care and treatment; otherwise, it can become more severe and leads to death.
Causes Of Hepatitis:
The leading causes of hepatitis are the following:
- Viral infection:
Hepatitis viruses are responsible for causing different types of hepatitis. Hepatitis spreads when an uninfected person comes in contact with the contaminated blood of a virus-infected person. Ingestion of contaminated food and water, raw/uncooked meat, and poor sanitation causes hepatitis A and E (1).
Hepatitis viruses through contact with the blood of the infected person, sharing of injection needles, and unprotected sex cause hepatitis B, C, and D (2).
Hepatitis B and C are spread when an uninfected person has sexual sex (oral, anal, and vaginal sex) with the person infected with the hepatitis B virus. If you’re not vaccinated and have unprotected sex or sexual contact with multiple partners, you are at significant risk of having hepatitis (3).
- Exposure To Alcohol And Other Drugs:
Hepatitis caused by excessive alcohol consumption for a prolonged period is known as alcoholic hepatitis. Using alcohol and other drugs cause the liver to be inflamed and damaged. The liver cells become injured with alcohol consumption. With time, alcoholic hepatitis may lead to cirrhosis or liver damage (4).
Overdose of medications and exposure to poisons and toxins may cause toxic hepatitis. You may develop toxic hepatitis within a day after being exposed to a toxin.
- Autoimmune Disorders:
Abnormal immune system response often causes autoimmune hepatitis, a long-term (chronic) and rare type of hepatitis. In autoimmune hepatitis, your immune system considers the liver a harmful tissue and makes antibodies to attack it. The result is a damaged liver because of ongoing inflammation. Women are three times more at risk of having autoimmune hepatitis than men (5).
In ischemia, your liver does not get enough oxygen and blood supply that may cause the liver cells to injure. Ischemia can also cause hepatitis due to the unmet needs of systemic blood and supply to the liver. Ischemic hepatitis is also called “shock liver” (6).
- FitzSimons D, Hendrickx G, Vorsters A, Van Damme P. Hepatitis A and E: Update on prevention and epidemiology. Vaccine. 2010 Jan 8;28(3):583–8.
- Hepatitis [Internet]. National Library of Medicine; [cited 2021 Jul 23]. Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/hepatitis.html
- Cavalheiro N de P. Sexual transmission of hepatitis C. Rev Inst Med Trop São Paulo. 2007 Oct;49:271–7.
- Hepatitis [Internet]. nhs.uk. 2017 [cited 2021 Jul 23]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hepatitis/
- Cropley A, Weltman M. The use of immunosuppression in autoimmune hepatitis: A current literature review. Clin Mol Hepatol. 2017 Mar 14;23(1):22–6.
- Seeto RK, Fenn B, Rockey DC. Ischemic hepatitis: clinical presentation and pathogenesis. Am J Med. 2000 Aug 1;109(2):109–13.