Hepatitis occurs when the liver has swelling and inflammation; however the term can only be used for a viral infection of the liver. There are a number of different things that can cause hepatitis ranging from immune cells to infections or other medical conditions. The type and severity of hepatitis ill determine what treatment option is best, according to your doctor.

Causes of Hepatitis

Many different things can cause hepatitis including an infection from a virus, bacteria or parasites which may cause hepatitis A, B or C, immune cells in the body that attack the liver and cause autoimmune hepatitis, alcohol-induced liver damage or damage to the liver from other poisons like mushrooms, and some medications that someone overdoses from, such as acetaminophen. Some diseases cause hepatitis including liver disease and Wilson’s disease.

Symptoms of Hepatitis

Acute hepatitis can come on quickly and suddenly while chronic hepatitis is more gradual. Some of the common symptoms of hepatitis are abdominal pain or abdominal swelling, breast development in males, dark urine, pale-colored stools, fatigue, fever, general itching, jaundice as yellowing of the skin or eyes, lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and weight loss. People with hepatitis B or C won’t show many symptoms in the beginning but they will gradually worsen, however the complications will still be there such as potential liver failure.

Diagnosing Hepatitis

A physical examination is usually the first step to diagnosing hepatitis, here the doctor will look for an enlarged or tender liver, fluid in the abdomen, and yellowing of the skin. Other testing includes an abdominal ultrasound, autoimmune blood markers, hepatitis virus serologies, liver function tests, liver biopsies, or a paracentesis to check for fluid in the abdomen.

Treating Hepatitis

The type of treatment available for hepatitis will depend on what type of hepatitis you have, such as A, B, C or autoimmune hepatitis, as well as your overall health. In the beginning, you may be monitored until more severe signs or symptoms occur. If it has lead to liver disease, the treatment may be more advanced. If you’re losing weight at a rapid pace, you may be instructed to eat a high-calorie diet to prevent dangerous weight loss. Possible complications from hepatitis are liver cancer, liver disease, liver failure, and permanent liver damage such as cirrhosis. Other complications include spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, or esophageal varices that may bleed. If you are vomiting blood, have blood in your stools, or are confused or delirious, you should consult a doctor immediately.

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