Hepatitis is a condition that causes inflammation of the liver due to various reasons. Inflammation is the swelling that occurs when body tissues are injured or infected. Your liver's ability to function may be affected as a result of the swelling and damage. Hepatitis is classified as either an acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term) infection. It can manifest itself in various ways, ranging from a complete lack of symptoms to severe liver failure. Hepatitis treatment differs depending on the kind of hepatitis, whether acute or chronic and the severity of the condition.
Causes of hepatitis are broadly categorized into two types:
Infectious Causes are the most common cause of hepatitis, caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites. Amongst them, more than 50% of cases are caused by viruses.
Non-Infectious Causes include alcohol, drugs, metabolic diseases, and autoimmune diseases.
Following are the types of hepatitis:1. Viral Hepatitis
2. Alcoholic Hepatitis: Excessive alcohol use is a significant cause of alcoholic hepatitis and the leading cause of cirrhosis in the United States. The quantity and duration of alcohol consumption are the most critical risk factors for the development of alcoholic hepatitis.
3. Ischemic Hepatitis: Ischemic hepatitis is caused by a reduction in blood flow to the liver, which can occur due to shock, heart failure, or vascular insufficiency. Heart failure is the most common cause of the disease, but it can also be caused by shock or sepsis.4. Autoimmune Hepatitis: Autoimmune hepatitis is liver inflammation caused by your immune system attacking liver cells. The specific cause of autoimmune hepatitis is unknown, but it appears that genetic and environmental factors interact over time to develop the condition.
Following are the routes of transmission for viral hepatitis that constitute most hepatitis cases:
Infectious hepatitis presents in the following phases:
Phase 1- Patients are asymptomatic, but serologic testing done for such patients is positive.
Phase 2- Patients develop symptoms of anorexia, nausea, vomiting, bad taste in the mouth, generalized weakness, and body pains and might be misdiagnosed as gastroenteritis.
Phase 3- Signs and symptoms of jaundice are apparent in this phase, including pallor, dark-colored urine, pale stools, and weakness. On clinical examination, liver enzymes are markedly raised, and liver inflammation can also be observed. These signs help in the diagnosis of hepatitis.
Phase 4- Patients return to normal. Jaundice and other clinical symptoms resolve. Liver enzymes return to normal levels.
The incubation period for various types varies. For hepatitis A, the incubation period is 2 to 7 weeks. Signs and symptoms are like those of gastroenteritis. The incubation period for hepatitis B is around one month to three months (30-180 days). Hepatitis B can rapidly progress, causing fulminant liver failure. The incubation period for hepatitis C is 15-150 days. Most patients with this type remain asymptomatic and exhibit a few clinical signs. The incubation period for hepatitis D is around 35 days. It is an acute self-limiting type. The incubation period for hepatitis E is 2-9 weeks. General signs and symptoms of the most common types of hepatitis include:
Following are the complications of hepatitis, most seen in the cases of hepatitis B and C:
Following investigations are done to diagnose hepatitis and its various forms:
Differential diagnoses of hepatitis include:
The prognosis of hepatitis varies depending upon the causative agent.
Our clinical experts continually monitor the health and medical content posted on CURA4U, and we update our blogs and articles when new information becomes available. Last reviewed by Dr.Saad Zia on April 28th, 2023.