What Is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis is inflammation (swelling and pain) of the liver and affects millions of people worldwide causing acute and chronic liver disease and killing close to 1.4 million people every year. The various forms of viral hepatitis include hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. While all these viruses affect the liver, they are spread in different ways and have different treatments. Most liver damage is caused by 3 hepatitis viruses A, B, and C.
Hepatitis can be caused by alcohol and some other toxins and infections, as well as from our own autoimmune process (the body attacks itself). About 250 million people globally are thought to be affected by hepatitis C, while 300 million people are thought to be carriers of hepatitis B. Not all forms of hepatitis are infectious. Alcohol, medicines, and chemicals may be bad for the liver and cause inflammation. Other viruses may also cause hepatitis, such as the yellow fever virus and the virus that causes glandular fever. ‘Chronic hepatitis’ means ongoing inflammation of the liver, regardless of the underlying cause.
Remember: The liver is important for a range of functions in the body. These include regulating metabolism, making proteins, storing vitamins and iron, removing toxins and producing bile. If the liver doesn’t work properly, it can cause serious illness or sometimes even death.
Health Risks of Hepatitis -
Viral hepatitis is often preventable. However, it is still considered a serious health risk because it can:
- Destroy liver tissue.
- Spread from person to person.
- Weaken the body's immune system.
- Cause the liver to fail.
- Cause liver cancer (hepatitis B and C).
- Cause death.
Types of Hepatitis
Hepatitis A - Hepatitis A is a viral disease that affects the liver. It most commonly comes from contaminated food or water. This form of hepatitis never leads to a chronic infection and does not cause chronic liver disease. Symptoms may last for several weeks, but full recovery usually occurs. Occasional deaths from hepatitis A have occurred due to chronic liver infection.