Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. The most common causes of hepatitis are the hepatitis viruses, but it can also occur due to other infections, alcohol consumption, drug abuse, and some forms of autoimmune diseases. There are five types of hepatitis viruses: A, B, C, D and E. These are dangerous viruses and sometimes they can even cause an epidemic. Hepatitis B and C are leading causes of chronic liver diseases, and they are mostly responsible for liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. Hepatitis A and E are caused by consuming contaminated food or water. Hepatitis B, C and E can be spread by using infected needles and exchanging body fluids. The transmission mostly happens during contaminated blood transfusion, invasive medical surgeries using contaminated equipment and the transfer of hepatitis B from mother to the baby at birth. It can also spread by sexual contact. Hepatitis tests are available for all five types of viruses. There is Anti HCV antibody (qualitative) test, Hepatitis B virus Anti HbcAg-IgM Core Antibody IgM test, Hepatitis C virus genotyping by sequencing, Hepatitis E virus test, and other tests.
The liver is one of the main organs of the body. At a given point, the liver holds almost 13% of the body’s blood. The liver produces bile that carries away waste and breaks down fat in the small intestine. It produces vital proteins for blood plasma. It is responsible for the production of cholesterol and special proteins to help carry fat through the body. It converts excess glucose into glycogen for storage that can be then converted back to glucose for energy when required. It regulates the levels of amino acids in the blood which are the building blocks of proteins. The liver stores iron for hemoglobin processing. It converts poisonous ammonia into urea that then flows out of the body through urine. It removes the traces of drugs and other poisonous substances from the blood. The liver regulates blood clotting. It removes bacteria from the bloodstream and helps build a strong immune system. It clears bilirubin from red blood cells; jaundice takes place when it is unable to do so.
Hence, when the liver is damaged, the effect can be devastating. During a hepatitis infection, the liver gets damaged badly. Upon the appearance of the symptoms, it is critical that one gets a hepatitis test done urgently and begin the medication.
Some forms of hepatitis can be self-limiting, but the other forms can progress to fibrosis, cirrhosis or even liver cancer. Here is some more information about the various hepatitis viruses.
Hepatitis A virus (HAV): Present in the feces of the infected person. Often transmitted through consumption of contaminated water or food. Unsafe sexual practices can also spread HAV. Infection can be mild. Most people experience full recovery and develop an immunity after the infection. But this infection can also be severe and life-threatening.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV): Transmitted through exposure to infected blood, semen, and other body fluids. Can also be transmitted from infected mothers to infants and from other family members. Infection can happen through blood transfusion or use of contaminated instruments during injection and medical procedures.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV): Mostly transmitted through exposure to infected blood. Contaminated instruments during surgical procedures also spread the hepatitis C virus. Sexual transmission is possible, but rare.
Hepatitis D virus (HDV): Only those get infected who are already infected with hepatitis B virus. The combination can aggravate the illness. The hepatitis B vaccines provide protection against hepatitis B also.
Hepatitis E virus (HEV): Mostly transmitted through consumption of contaminated water or food. Most common cause of hepatitis outbreaks in developing countries.
These are some common symptoms of hepatitis:
Loss of appetite
Unexplained weight loss
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is it important to get a hepatitis test?
There are different types of hepatitis virus infections depending on the exposure and the severity. Hepatitis can be highly infectious. If the patient has contacted hepatitis, he or she may be spreading the disease among the people around him or her, aside from the fact that the symptoms can become life-threatening pretty fast. Before the virus is spread further, it is important that a hepatitis test is conducted at the earliest possible. The doctor can suggest which hepatitis test is needed, because there are multiple tests for multiple types of hepatitis viruses.
What is the process of getting a hepatitis test?
Every hepatitis test involves submitting a blood sample. What test you need will be suggested by your doctor. Once it has been decided which type of hepatitis test you need (or multiple tests), you can fix up an appointment and a phlebotomist will pay you a visit. He will obtain your blood sample and submit the sample to our lab. Your hepatitis test report will be available to you in a couple of days.
When does hepatitis get life-threatening?
The hepatitis B infection is potentially life-threatening. It can cause chronic infection that can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Research has shown that 70% patients of hepatitis C develop chronic liver disease and up to 20% develop cirrhosis. On the other hand, although hepatitis A is highly contagious, it is a short-term liver infection and in most of the cases the patient gets cured on his or her own and even develops an immunity (against hepatitis A variant only) after getting the infection.
Which type of hepatitis can lead to liver cancer?
Hepatitis B infection can lead to liver cancer. The problem with hepatitis is that the symptoms may look the same whether initially the infection is dangerous or not. Hence, whenever there are symptoms of hepatitis, you must get a hepatitis test done to find out which type of hepatitis you have been infected with so that appropriate treatment can be started.
Can hepatitis spread through flies?
Flies can definitely be a mechanical factor or the carrier of hepatitis A. This type of virus is found in contaminated food as well as in the feces. When the flies sit on the food or the feces and then when they sit on your food or sit on your hand and then you use that hand to eat something, the virus can be transmitted.