There are a wide variety of causes of hepatitis, or inflation of the liver. As your liver processes food and helps remove toxins from your blood, it comes in contact with a variety of dangers known to be causes of hepatitis. Alcohol consumption as well as various virus strains may lead to the development of this condition.
Long-term consumption and abuse of alcohol is one of the primary causes of hepatitis, and is referred to as alcoholic hepatits. As the liver attempts to process the ethanol found in alcohol, a toxin called acetaldehyde is released into the tissues of the liver and must be removed. Left untreated, alcoholic hepatitis can progress into cirrhosis of the liver, a deadly liver disease.
Hepatitis A is one of the viral forms of hepatitis. It lives in feces of infected individuals. Typically, the hepatitis A virus is transmitted through the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the hepatitis A virus. The most common form of hepatitis, the virus often affects children and those living in unsanitary conditions. Typically the virus is short-lived, around two to six weeks, and is not fatal. Treatment for hepatitis A is normally rest, and medication is seldom prescribed.
The hepatitis B virus can be found in blood and serum of infected individuals. People can contract the virus through sexual contact, infected needles, blood transfusions, or even sharing a toothbrush infected with the virus. The virus usually lasts between four and 20 weeks, and medication is often given for chronic cases. Without treatment, chronic hepatitis B sufferers may develop a chronic condition that can evolve into serious liver diseases, such as cirrhosis.
Hepatitis C virus is also a bloodborne viral strain, and is often transmitted through the use of infected needles during drug use, tattooing, and blood transfusions. Like hepatitis B, hepatitis C can lead to a chronic condition resulting in chronic liver disease. Severe cases may require a liver transplant. The virus is usually present from two to 26 weeks, and medication is normally prescribed as a treatment method.
Since all viral causes of hepatitis are contagious, prevention includes following good oral hygiene, avoiding sexual contact with those infected with hepatitis and avoiding contaminated needles and syringes. Refraining from alcohol abuse can limit the chances of developing alcoholic hepatitis.
Symptoms of hepatitis start out the same no matter what the cause of hepatitis. Initially, symptoms may include fever, loss of appetite, nausea, and jaundice, a yellowing of the skin. As the disease progresses, particularly with the viral B and C strains as well as alcoholic hepatitis, other symptoms begin to appear. These include dark urine, light-colored stools, confusion and abdominal pain.