Viral Hepatitis

What is Viral Hepatitis?

Viral Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by a virus. The disease has chronic and acute forms. Acute hepatitis lasts under six months, while chronic hepatitis can last much longer and it is most often caused by Hepatitis B or C. Chronic hepatitis can lead to scarring (cirrhosis) of the liver.

The most common types of viral hepatitis in the United States are: Hepatitis A (HAV), Hepatitis B (HBV), and Hepatitis C (HCV).

Most people infected with HAV, HBV, and HCV show few symptoms. Those who develop symptoms, develop flu-like symptoms, including:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tiredness
  • Aching in the abdomen

More severe symptoms include

  • Dark urine
  • Light-colored stool
  • Jaundice

The cause of viral hepatitis depends on the form of the virus

  • Hepatitis A is transmitted by person-to-person contact or consumption of contaminated food or water.
  • Hepatitis B is transmitted through bodily fluids such as blood and semen or through sharing syringes or unsanitary tattoo equipment.
  • Hepatitis C is transmitted through blood. HCV is the most common blood-borne infection in the United States.

Hepatitis is usually diagnosed using a blood test. There are three types of blood tests that can be used to diagnose hepatitis, including;

  • Liver enzymes tests
  • Viral antibodies tests
  • Viral proteins and genetic materials tests

Treatment depends if the patient has acute or chronic hepatitis.

Treatment for acute viral hepatitis primarily consists of relieving symptoms while the virus runs its coarse. Most people might not even know they have acute hepatitis.

Treatment for chronic Hepatitis B and C often uses a mix of antiviral drugs. Treatment may last anywhere from 12-48 weeks or it can continue indefinitely.

Medications for chronic Hepatitis B include:

  • Injectable alpha interferons
  • Lamivudine (Epivir)
  • Adeforvir (Hepsera)
  • Entecavir (Baraclude)
  • Tenofovir (Viread)

Medications for chronic hepatitis C include:

  • Injectable interferons
  • Ribavirin (Rebetol, Copegus)
  • Boceprevir (Victrelis)
  • Simeprevir (Olysio)

Sofosbuvir (solvaldi)

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