Prevention, Complications and Diagnosis of Hepatitis

Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver tissue with yellow discoloration of the skin and whites of the eyes, poor appetite, vomiting, tiredness, abdominal pain, or diarrhea.

Updated: August 18, 2020

Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver tissue with yellow discoloration of the skin and whites of the eyes, poor appetite, vomiting, tiredness, abdominal pain, or diarrhea. Hepatitis may be temporary (acute) or long term (chronic) depending on the duration it lasts.

It is commonly caused by a viral infection. But there are other possible causes of hepatitis which include autoimmune hepatitis and hepatitis that occurs as a secondary result of medications, drugs, toxins, and alcohol. When your body makes antibodies against your liver tissue, autoimmune hepatitis is developed.


Prevention of Hepatitis:

Hygiene:

The best way to way to avoid contracting hepatitis A and E is by practicing good hygiene.
If you are traveling to a developing country, you should :

  •     have clean water practices
  •     do not use ice
  •     do not consume raw fruit and vegetables
  •     stay away from raw or undercooked shellfish and oysters

Hepatitis B, C, and D contracted through contaminated blood can be prevented by:

  •     not sharing drug needles and using a safe needle
  •     not sharing razors
  •     not using someone else's toothbrush
  •     not touching spilled blood
  •     taking precautions during sexual intercourse and intimate sexual contact

Alcoholic hepatitis can be prevented by reducing alcohol consumption.

Vaccines:

Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for all children beginning at age one, as well as for those who have not been previously immunized and are at high risk for contracting the disease.

Routine vaccination of hepatitis B is recommended for all children under the age of 19 and also for those who desire it or are at high risk.
There is also a combination formulation that includes both hepatitis A and B vaccines. Vaccines against hepatitis C is still under research.

For hepatitis C or E, there are currently no vaccines available in the United States.


Complications of Hepatitis:

Hepatitis B or C is chronic. As the virus affects the liver, people with chronic hepatitis B or C can have liver-related issues leading to more serious health problems. These could be
chronic liver disease: This includes inflammation (chronic hepatitis), liver cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma.

Cirrhosis:

This involves loss of liver cells and irreversible scarring of the liver.

Liver cancer:

This is developed when normal cells in the liver become abnormal in appearance and behavior. The cancer cells can then become destructive to adjacent normal tissues and can spread both to other areas of the liver and to organs outside the liver.

Liver Failure:

Liver failure can occur when your liver stops functioning normally which will have complications, such as:

  • kidney failure, in which a sudden loss of blood flow to your kidneys causing the kidney to stop working.
  • portal hypertension, in which the blood pressure in the portal vein is too high making it harder for your liver to function properly.
  • ascites, in which fluid builds up inside the abdomen because of liver scarring.
  • bleeding disorders
  • hepatic encephalopathy, which can involve fatigue, memory loss, and diminished mental abilities due to the buildup of toxins, like ammonia that affect brain function
  • hepatocellular carcinoma, which is a kind of liver cancer
  • death

People with chronic hepatitis B and C are recommended to avoid alcohol as it is a major cause of liver disease and failure. Certain supplements and medications can also affect liver function. If you have chronic hepatitis B or C, do not take any new medications without a doctor's consultation.


Diagnosis of Hepatitis:

History and Physical exam:

To diagnose hepatitis, the doctor will do a physical examination to clarify if you have:
any risk factors for infectious or noninfectious hepatitis in your past.

  • pain or tenderness in your abdomen
  • enlarged liver
  • yellow skin or eye

Liver Function Tests:

Blood samples is tested to determine how efficiently your liver is functioning. High liver enzyme levels is an indication that your liver is stressed, damaged, or not functioning properly. If you do not have any signs of a physical examination of liver disease, this test is done to find the abnormality of the liver.

Other Blood Tests:

These tests will be done to detect the source of the problem if your liver function tests are abnormal. These tests can check for the particular viruses that cause hepatitis and can also be used to check for antibodies that are common in conditions like autoimmune hepatitis.


Ultrasound:

Ultrasound is done for your abdomen which uses ultrasound waves to create an image of the organs within your abdomen. Your liver and nearby organs can be closely examined by this test. It can show:

  •     fluid in your abdomen
  •     liver tumors
  •     liver damage or enlargement
  •     abnormalities of your gallbladder

An ultrasound image of the pancreas can determine the cause of your abnormal liver function.

Liver Biopsy:

A liver biopsy can be done through your skin with a needle, taking a sample of tissue from your liver. It does not require any surgery. Usually, an ultrasound is used to guide the doctor while taking the biopsy sample. This test can determine how infection or inflammation has affected your liver. It can also be used to sample any areas in your liver that appear abnormal.


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