What Is Hepatitis? Symptoms, Causes
What is the liver?
The liver is the largest gland in the human body. It weighs approximately 3 lb (1.36 kg). It is reddish brown in color and is divided into four lobes of different sizes and lengths. It is also the largest internal organ (the largest organ is the skin). It is below the diaphragm on the right in the thoracic region of the abdomen. Blood reaches the liver through the hepatic artery and the portal vein. The portal vein carries blood containing digested food from the small intestine, while the hepatic artery carries oxygen-rich blood from the aorta.
· Detoxification (filters harmful substances form the blood, such as alcohol)
· Stores vitamins A, D, K and B12 (also stores minerals)
· Protein synthesis (makes certain amino acids - the building blocks of proteins)
· The production of biochemicals needed for digestion, such as bile
· Maintains proper levels of glucose in the blood
· Produces 80% of your body's cholesterol (cholesterol is vital)
· The storage glycogen (also converts glucose to glycogen)
· Decomposing red blood cells
· Synthesizing plasma protein
· The production of hormones
Produces urea (the main substance of urine)
Hepatitis can heal on its own with no significant consequence, or it can progress to scarring of the liver. Acute hepatitis lasts under six months, while chronic hepatitis lasts longer.
How many types of hepatitis are there?
There are five main types of hepatitis that are caused by a virus, A, B, C, D, and E - plus types X and G.
Hepatitis A - this is caused by eating infected food or water. The food or water is infected with a virus called HAV (Hepatitis A Virus). Anal-oral contact during sex can also be a cause. Nearly everyone who develops Hepatitis A makes a full recovery - it does not lead to chronic disease.
Hepatitis B - this is an STD (sexually transmitted disease). It is caused by the virus HBV (Hepatitis B Virus) and is spread by contact with infected blood, semen, and some other body fluids.
Hepatitis C - Hepatitis C is usually spread through direct contact with the blood of a person who has the disease. It is caused by the virus HCV (Hepatitis C Virus). The liver can swell and become damaged. In hepatitis C, unlike hepatitis B, liver cancer risk is only increased in people with cirrhosis and only 20% of hep C patients get cirrhosis. Feces is never a route of transmission in hepatitis C. Donated blood is also tested for Hepatitis C.
Hepatitis D - only a person who is already infected with Hepatitis B can become infected with Hepatitis D. It is caused by the virus HDV (Hepatitis D Virus). Infection is through contact with infected blood, unprotected sex, and perforation of the skin with infected needles. The liver of a person with Hepatitis D swells.
Hepatitis E - a person can become infected by drinking water that contains HEV (Hepatitis E Virus). The liver swells but there is no long-term consequence. Infection is also possible through anal-oral sex.
Hepatitis X - if a hepatitis cannot be attributed to the viruses of hepatitis A, B, C, D, or E, it is called Hepatitis X. In other words, hepatitis of an unknown virus.
Hepatitis G - this is a type of hepatitis caused by the Hepatitis G virus (HGV). Usually there are no symptoms. When there are symptoms they are very mild.
What are the signs and symptoms of hepatitis?
Many people with Hepatitis experience either mild symptoms or none at all. Remember that an infected person's feces are always infectious to other people. When symptoms appear, they usually do so about 15 to 180 days after the person has become infected.
· Loss of appetite
· Mild fever
· Muscle or joint aches
· Slight abdominal pain
The acute phase is not usually dangerous, unless it develops into the fulminant or rapidly progressing form, which can lead to death.
· Circulation problems (only toxic/drug-induced hepatitis)
· Dark urine
· Dizziness (only toxic/drug-induced hepatitis)
· Drowsiness (only toxic/drug-induced hepatitis)
· Enlarged spleen (only alcoholic hepatitis)
· Headache (only toxic/drug-induced hepatitis)
· Itchy skin
· Light colored feces, the feces may contain pus
· Yellow skin, whites of eyes, tongue (jaundice)
Patient outcomes after the acute phase depend on various factors, especially the type of hepatitis.
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