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What Is Hepatitis?

What Is Hepatitis?

Hepatitis is a term used to describe an inflammation (often a viral infection) of the liver tissue than can hinder the normal functioning. Hepatitis viruses attack the liver and may result in acute or chronic hepatitis. Sometimes, hepatitis is self-limiting, but it can also progress to chronic liver diseases like liver cancer, cirrhosis, or fibrosis (scarring) (1).

Composition Of Liver Tissue:

The liver is one of the major organs in the body and has vital metabolic functions. From converting nutrients into energy to eliminating toxic substances from the body, the liver plays an essential role in all metabolic processes of the body. The liver is also involved in the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids.

Liver tissue is composed of a large number of cells called hepatocytes or hepatic cells, which are criss crossed with blood vessels and bile ducts. About 60% of liver tissue comprises hepatic cells that execute more metabolic functions than any other cell in the body. Liver tissue is also composed of Kupffer cells. Kupffer cells are involved in the ingestion of cellular debris and foreign invaders and antibody production (2).

Symptoms Of Hepatitis:

There are about 2,3 billion people in the world who are infected with one or another virus causing hepatitis. Viral hepatitis causes an estimated 1.4 million deaths worldwide each year (3). There are no noticeable symptoms of acute hepatitis. The following are some common symptoms:

  • Dark urine
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pale eyes and skin (jaundice)(4)

Types Of Hepatitis:

The five types of hepatitis are the following: 

Hepatitis A: This type is caused by the hepatitis A virus by consuming water and food contaminated with faeces of hepatitis A-infected person.

Hepatitis B: HBV is responsible for hepatitis B. It is transmitted via blood contact with the person infected with hepatitis B. In this way, injecting drugs and having unprotected sex may also cause hepatitis B.

Hepatitis C:  is one of the most widespread blood-borne viral infections that is transmitted through blood-to-blood contact and sexual contact with the person infected with hepatitis C.

Hepatitis D: This rare type of hepatitis only occurs in association with hepatitis B. It is spread through blood-to-blood contact with the infected person.

Hepatitis E: This infection is spread through the consumption of raw/uncooked meat, poor sanitation, and ingestion of faecal matter (5).

References:

  1. Ryder SD, Beckingham IJ. Acute hepatitis. BMJ. 2001 Jan 20;322(7279):151–3.
  2. Information NC for B, Pike USNL of M 8600 R, MD B, Usa 20894. How does the liver work? [Internet]. InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2016 [cited 2021 Jul 23]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279393/
  3. Jefferies M, Rauff B, Rashid H, Lam T, Rafiq S. Update on global epidemiology of viral hepatitis and preventive strategies. World J Clin Cases. 2018 Nov 6;6(13):589–99.
  4. Hepatitis [Internet]. nhs.uk. 2017 [cited 2021 Jul 23]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hepatitis/
  5. What is Viral Hepatitis? | CDC [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2021 Jul 23]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/abc/index.htm

 

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