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Liver infected with Hepatitis

Hepatitis: All you need to know

Hepatitis is a medical condition characterised by inflammation of the liver, which can severely affect its ability to function effectively. 


The liver is an organ responsible for various essential functions, including producing bile for digestion, detoxifying harmful substances and storing nutrients. When inflamed, the liver's performance is compromised, leading to a range of health issues. The following post looks at exactly what hepatitis is, the various different types, and the symptoms commonly noted.

What is Hepatitis?

It refers to the inflammation of the liver tissue. 


There are a variety of causes, including viral infections, excessive alcohol consumption, certain medications, autoimmune diseases, and other infections. It can be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term), and its severity can range from mild to severe, potentially leading to liver failure, liver cancer, or cirrhosis—a condition characterised by permanent scarring of the liver.

Different types of Hepatitis

It is classified into several types, primarily based on its cause. The most common types are hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E.

Hepatitis A

This is a contagious viral infection caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). 


It is typically transmitted through ingestion of contaminated food or water or close contact with an infected person. It is usually acute and does not lead to chronic liver disease. 


Symptoms can range from mild to severe and usually resolve on their own within a few weeks to months. Vaccination is available and highly effective in preventing infection.

Hepatitis B

This is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and can be both acute and chronic. 


It is transmitted through contact with infectious body fluids, such as blood, semen, and vaginal fluids. Common modes of transmission include unprotected sex, sharing needles, and from mother to child during childbirth. 


Chronic infection can lead to serious complications, including cirrhosis and liver cancer. A vaccine is available and is the best prevention method.

Hepatitis C

This is caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV) and is primarily spread through blood-to-blood contact. 


Common transmission routes include sharing needles, receiving contaminated blood products, and, less commonly, through sexual contact. It often becomes chronic and can lead to severe liver damage. 


Unlike A and B, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C. However, effective antiviral treatments are available.

Hepatitis D

Also known as delta hepatitis, is caused by the hepatitis D virus (HDV). 


It is a unique form that only occurs in individuals already infected with hepatitis B, as HDV requires the presence of HBV to replicate. Hepatitis D is transmitted through contact with infectious body fluids. Coinfection with hepatitis B and D can result in more severe disease and a higher risk of complications. 


Vaccination against hepatitis B also protects against hepatitis D.

Hepatitis E

This is caused by the hepatitis E virus (HEV) and is primarily transmitted through ingestion of contaminated water. 


It is more common in regions with poor sanitation and is usually acute, resolving on its own. However, hepatitis E can be severe in pregnant women, potentially leading to fulminant hepatitis and liver failure. 


There is currently no widely available vaccine for this type of infection, though preventive measures such as improving sanitation and drinking safe water are effective.

Symptoms of Hepatitis

tired lady
Jaundice
Abdominal Pain
Loss of appetite
Toilet - dark urine & pale stools
Fever
Joint Pain
Itchy skin

The symptoms can vary depending on the type and severity of the infection. Some individuals may experience no symptoms, particularly in the early stages of the disease. 


Common symptoms include:

  • Fatigue : Persistent tiredness and weakness.

  • Jaundice : Yellowing of the skin and eyes due to elevated bilirubin levels.

  • Abdominal pain : Discomfort or pain in the upper right side of the abdomen.

  • Loss of appetite : sometimes accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

  • Dark urine

  • Pale stools

  • Fever

  • Joint pain

  • Itchy skin 

Chronic hepatitis often progresses silently, with few or no symptoms until significant liver damage has occurred. This highlights the importance of screening for at-risk individuals.

Diagnosis

Diagnosing involves a combination of medical history, physical examination, and various laboratory tests. 


The following diagnostic methods are commonly used:

Blood Tests

Blood tests are essential for diagnosing hepatitis. They can detect the presence of viruses, determine the specific type of hepatitis, and assess liver function. 


Key blood tests include:

Liver function tests (LFTs)

Measure levels of liver enzymes (ALT, AST), bilirubin, and other substances to assess liver damage and function.


Viral serologies

Detect antibodies or antigens specific to hepatitis viruses (HAV, HBV, HCV, HDV, HEV) to identify the type of infection.

Imaging Studies

Imaging studies, such as ultrasound, CT scans, and MRI, can provide detailed images of the liver and help assess the extent of liver damage or complications such as cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Liver Biopsy

In some cases, a liver biopsy may be necessary to obtain a small tissue sample from the liver for microscopic examination. 


This can provide definitive information about the extent of liver inflammation, fibrosis, and other structural changes.

Conclusion

Hepatitis is a complex and potentially serious condition affecting millions of people worldwide. 


Understanding the different types, being aware of the symptoms, and seeking prompt diagnosis and treatment are crucial steps in managing the disease and preventing its complications. 


Vaccination, safe practices, and regular medical check-ups are key to protecting oneself from hepatitis and ensuring liver health. 

About One Day Tests

One Day Tests offer a range of blood tests that enable you to monitor and understand your health like never before.

Whether it’s for routine health checks, managing a chronic condition, or just staying informed about your body, our range of blood tests provides the convenience, accuracy, and peace of mind you deserve.


You have the choice to visit one of our clinics or you can opt for the convenience and comfort of using our at-home blood test kits .


There are no waiting times to get an appointment or receive your home test kit in the post. You don't need a DP referral to have one of our tests and you will receive rapid results. in most cases same day or next day from when the same reaches our laboratory.


For additional assistance, guidance or queries regarding our custom blood tests, do not hesitate to get in touch. Our team is here to help you with any questions and provide you with the information you need. You can contact us at 0845 527 07 67, send an email to hello@onedaytests.com , or reach out to us via WhatsApp.


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