Symptoms of Hepatitis
The most common symptoms of hepatitis are:
• Loss of appetite
• Mild fever
• Muscle or joint aches
• Nausea and vomiting
• Abdominal pain
Less common symptoms include:
• Dark urine
• Light-colored stools
• Generalized itching
• Altered mental state, stupor or coma
Causes for Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is caused by a virus (hepatitis A virus, or HAV) that multiplies in liver cells and is shed in stool.
How HAV is spread
Hepatitis A virus is found in the stool (feces) of a person who has hepatitis A. The virus is spread most commonly when people put food or objects contaminated with stool containing HAV into their mouths.
Large numbers of people get the virus after drinking contaminated water because, in many parts of the world, drinking water is contaminated with raw sewage. The virus also may be spread by eating uncooked food (such as raw shellfish) and unpeeled fruits and vegetables washed in contaminated water. Hepatitis A outbreaks caused by contaminated drinking water are rare in the United States because water supplies are treated to destroy the virus and other harmful organisms.
In the U.S., HAV is spread mainly among people who have close contact with someone who has the virus. You can become infected with HAV if you:
• Eat food prepared by someone who does not wash his or her hands well after using the bathroom or changing a diaper.
• Don't wash your hands after changing a diaper.
• Eat raw or undercooked shellfish that was harvested from waters contaminated with raw sewage.
• Are a man and have sex with men.
Outbreaks of hepatitis A among children in day care facilities occur because children, especially those who wear diapers, may get stool on their hands and then touch objects that other children put into their mouths. Caregivers in day care centers can spread the virus if they do not wash their hands thoroughly after changing a child's diaper.
It is very rare for hepatitis A virus to be spread by infected blood or blood products. It is not known to be spread through saliva or urine.
Some people fear that hepatitis A infection is related to or increases the risk of contracting acquired immunodeficiency syndrome(AIDS). This is not true. The hepatitis A virus is not related to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS, nor does it increase your risk of HIV infection. A person can be infected with both hepatitis A and HIV, but the two infections have nothing to do with each other.
Incubation and contagious periods
After the hepatitis A virus enters your body, the amount of virus grows for 2 to 7 weeks. The average incubation period is about 4 weeks.
Your stools and body fluids contain the highest levels of the virus 2 weeks before symptoms start. This is the time when you are most contagious, but you still may spread the virus after symptoms appear.
Causes for Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is a liver disease caused by infection with the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Hepatitis B is one of the most common forms of viral hepatitis, which includes hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. But hepatitis has many other causes, including some medicines, long-term alcohol use, fatty deposits in the liver, and exposure to certain industrial chemicals.
How HBV is spread
HBV is spread when blood, semen, or vaginal fluids (including menstrual blood) from an infected person enter another person's body, usually in one of the following ways:
• Sexual contact. The hepatitis B virus can enter the body through a break in the lining of the rectum, vagina, urethra, or mouth. Sexual contact is the most important risk factor for the spread of HBV in North America.
• Sharing needles. People who share needles and other equipment (such as cotton, spoons, and water) used for injecting illegal drugs may inject HBV-infected blood into their veins.
• Work-related exposure. People who handle blood or instruments used to draw blood may become infected with the virus. Health care workers are at risk of becoming infected with the virus if they are accidentally stuck with a used needle or other sharp instrument contaminated with an infected person's blood. Infection also can occur if blood splashes onto an exposed surface, such as the eyes, mouth, or a cut in the skin.
• Childbirth. A newborn baby can get the virus from his or her mother during delivery when the baby comes in contact with the mother's body fluids in the birth canal (perinatal transmission). But breast-feeding does not transmit the virus from a woman with HBV to her child.
• Body piercings and tattoos. HBV may be spread when needles used for body piercing or tattooing are not properly cleaned (sterilized) and HBV-infected blood enters a person's skin.
• Toiletries. Grooming items such as razors and toothbrushes can spread HBV if they carry blood from a person who is infected with the virus.
In the past, blood transfusions were a common means of spreading HBV. Organ transplants could also spread the disease. Today, all donated blood and organs in the United States are screened for the virus, so it is extremely unlikely that you could become infected with the virus from a blood transfusion or organ transplant.
Contagious and incubation periods
Symptoms appear an average of 60 to 90 days (although they can appear 45 to 180 days) after you have contact with the hepatitis B virus (incubation period). Blood, semen, and vaginal fluids (including menstrual blood), whether fresh or dried, are highly contagious (HBV can be easily spread) during this period and for several weeks after the onset of symptoms.
• Blood contains the highest quantities of the hepatitis B virus.
• Blood and other body fluids that contain the virus can remain contagious for at least a week and possibly much longer, even if they are dried.
If you have a short-term HBV (acute) infection, you usually cannot spread the virus after antibodies against the surface antigen of HBV appear. This generally takes several weeks. If you have a long-term (chronic) HBV infection, you are able to spread the virus as long as you have an active infection.
Causes for Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a liver disease that is caused by infection with the hepatitis C virus, a virus that lives in your liver cells.
How it spreads
You cannot get hepatitis C from casual contact such as hugging, kissing, sneezing, coughing, or sharing food or water with someone. You can get hepatitis C if you come into contact with the blood of someone who has hepatitis C.
The most common way to get hepatitis C is by sharing needles and other equipment (such as cotton, spoons, and water) used to inject illegal drugs. If you are injecting drugs, the best way to protect yourself is by not sharing needles or other equipment with others. Many cities have needle exchange programs that provide free, sterile needles so that you do not have to share needles. If you want to stop using drugs, ask your doctor or someone you trust to help you get into a drug treatment program.
Before 1992, people could get hepatitis C through blood transfusions and organ transplants. Since 1992, all donated blood and organs are screened for hepatitis C, so it is now rare to get the virus this way.
In rare cases, a mother with hepatitis C spreads the virus to her baby at birth, or a health care worker is accidentally exposed to blood that is infected with hepatitis C.
Experts are not sure whether you can get hepatitis C through sexual contact. If there is a risk of getting the virus through sexual contact, it is very small. Your risk is especially low if you are in a long-term, monogamous relationship.
If you live with someone who has hepatitis C or you know someone with hepatitis C, you generally do not need to worry about getting the disease. You can help protect yourself by not sharing anything that may have blood on it, such as razors, toothbrushes, and nail clippers.
Contagious and incubation periods
The incubation period is the time it takes for symptoms to appear after the hepatitis C virus has entered your body, and it is any time from 2 weeks to 6 months.
Anyone who has hepatitis C can spread the virus to someone else. If testing shows you have hepatitis C, do not share needles. And keep cuts, scrapes, and blisters covered.
Treatment of Hepatitis
The treatment for viral hepatitis depends on the type and stage of the infection. Over the last several years treatments for both Hepatitis B and C have become available. More treatments are being evaluated all the time.
If your hepatitis, either viral or nonviral, is in the acute stage, avoid alcoholic beverages, as the body's efforts to process alcohol put an added strain on the already injured liver. Also be aware that the sexual partner of an infected person, particularly if he or she has hepatitis B, may run the risk of contracting the disease.
A primary care physician can usually provide adequate care for patients with all types of hepatitis. However, severe cases may require treatment by a hepatologist or gastroenterologist -- specialists in diseases of the liver. Hospitalization is normally unnecessary unless the patient cannot eat or drink or is vomiting.
Most people recover completely from acute hepatitis. Mild flare-ups may occur over a period of several months as the disease is subsiding, but each flare-up is usually less severe than the one before it, and a relapse doesn't mean you won't make a full recovery.
Hepatitis in pregnant women usually does not increase the risk of birth defects or other pregnancy problems, and infection of the baby in the uterus is rare. However, hepatitis E can be fatal to a pregnant woman during her third trimester, and if the mother has hepatitis B, the baby is likely to contract the disease at birth. If you are pregnant, your doctor will test you for hepatitis B; if you are infected with the virus, your baby will be given immune globulin shots and a hepatitis vaccination. This will help protect your baby from contracting the virus.
Doctors sometimes recommend drug therapy for patients with certain types of hepatitis. Antiviral medication for hepatitis B includes peginterferon lamivudine, adefovir dipivoxil, entecavir, telbivudine, and tenofovir.The standard treatment for chronic hepatitis C is a course of peginterferon plus ribavirin. The latest evidence shows that peginterferon and ribavirin is more effective than standard interferon and ribavirin, curing 50% to 80% of those infected with hepatitis C.
Almost every known drug has at one time or another been implicated as a cause of liver damage. If you currently have hepatitis, or if you have a history of liver disease or other liver problems, tell your doctor before taking any medication.
Regardless of what kind of hepatitis you have or what treatment you receive, you should continue seeing your doctor for checkups until blood tests indicate the virus is gone. A person can remain a carrier of hepatitis B or hepatitis C as long as the virus is present in the blood, even if all symptoms have disappeared.
Medicine for Hepatitis
Arq Kasni, Arq Afsanteen, Arq Biranjasaf, Arq Makoh, Sharbat Kasni, Majun Dabidulward, Sharbat Dinar, Habbe Kabid Naushadri. (Hamdard Unani Medicines)