Hepatitis


The liver performs many essential functions, and when it becomes inflamed due to hepatitis, there is cause for concern. There are many types of viral hepatitis, including A, B and C.

Causes

Hepatitis can be caused by:
  • Immune cells in the body attacking the liver and causing autoimmune hepatitis
  • Infections from viruses (such as hepatitis A, B, or C), bacteria, or parasites
  • Liver damage from alcohol, poisonous mushrooms, or other poisons.
  • Medications, such as an overdose of acetaminophen

Risk Factors

The following people are at a higher risk for hepatitis:
  • Health care workers who are exposed to infected blood
  • People who share needles
  • People who abuse drugs or alcohol

Symptoms

  • Abdominal pain or distention
  • Dark urine or pale/clay-colored stools
  • Flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue, low-grade fever, nausea/vomiting
  • General itching
  • Jaundice (yellowing of skin or eyes)
  • Appetite or weight loss

Diagnostic Tests

A physical examination may show:
  • Enlarged and tender liver
  • Fluid in the abdomen (ascites) that can become infected
  • Yellowing of the skin
Your doctor may order laboratory tests to diagnose and monitor the hepatitis, including:
  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Autoimmune blood markers
  • Hepatitis virus serologies
  • Liver function tests
  • Liver biopsy to check for liver damage
  • Paracentesis if fluid is in your abdomen

Treatment

Your doctor will discuss possible treatments with you, depending on the cause of your liver disease. A high-calorie diet may be recommended to combat weight loss.

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