Hepatitis is a viral infection which affects healthy tissues of the liver and leads to liver dysfunction up to liver failure. There are five types of hepatitis, as follow:
1. Hepatitis A: it develops due to ingestion of foods or drinks contaminated with stool of a patient with hepatitis A.
2. Hepatitis B: it develops due to direct exposure to a patient's fluids (blood, semen or vaginal secretions). So common modes of transmission include sexual intercourse or using shaving blades of a patient with hepatitis B.
3. Hepatitis C: it's the most serious type of hepatitis. Modes of transmission of hepatitis C tend to be similar to those of hepatitis B.
4. Hepatitis D: it's a rare type of hepatitis and occurs as a secondary infection after hepatitis B.
5. Hepatitis C: this type of hepatitis occurs due to ingestion of water contaminated with stool containing the virus. So this type of infection is common in poor areas and developing countries.
Each type of hepatitis seems to have a definite clinical picture. In general, symptoms common to all of these types include the following:
• Jaundice (yellowish discoloration of the skin).
• Chronic fatigue.
• Dark urine.
• Dark or black stool.
• Nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
• Loss of appetite.
• Skin itching.
To diagnose hepatitis and to differentiate between their types; the following investigations are done:
Blood tests: CBC and liver function test.
Hepatitis viral biomarkers.
Radiological examination of liver (U/S or CT).
Management of hepatitis is established according to the type of infection, as follow:
Hepatitis A: management plan usually includes treatment of the presenting symptoms (mainly diarrhea and fever) as well as rest, healthy diet and drinking plenty of fluids.
Hepatitis B: it's treated by antiviral drugs. Also, vaccination is highly recommended for prevention of infection.
Hepatitis C: it's treated by antiviral drugs. In advanced cases, liver transplant is recommended (there is no vaccination against hepatitis C).
Hepatitis D: there is no active treatment for hepatitis D. So, the best thing to do to avoid hepatitis D is to get hepatitis B vaccine, as development of hepatitis D is usually preceded with hepatitis B.
Hepatitis E: management plan includes rest, healthy diet, fluids and treatment of the presenting symptoms.
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