Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver that results in liver cell damage and destruction.
Hepatitis can be categorized in two groups:
There are six main types of the hepatitis virus that have been identified:
A vaccine for hepatitis B does exist and is now widely used for routine childhood immunization. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that universal infant hepatitis B vaccination should begin at birth, except in rare circumstances.
The following describes people who may be at risk for contracting hepatitis C:
According to the CDC, in the United States:
|What is Acute Hepatitis?||What is Chronic Hepatitis?|
|Acute hepatitis is quite common in the U.S.
Causes. Common causes of acute hepatitis may include:
Symptoms. Acute hepatitis usually starts with flu-like symptoms. The following are the most common symptoms of acute hepatitis. However, each person may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of acute hepatitis may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
Diagnosis. In addition to a complete medical history and medical examination, diagnostic procedures for acute hepatitis may include the following:
Treatment. Specific treatment for acute hepatitis will be determined by your doctor based on:
Treatment varies, depending on the type of acute hepatitis (viral versus non-viral). Severe, acute hepatitis may require hospitalization.
People who have had acute viral hepatitis may become chronic carriers of the disease. Proper precautions need to be taken to prevent the spread of the disease.
|Some people do not recover fully from acute hepatitis and develop chronic hepatitis, as the liver continues to sustain more damage and inflammation. Hepatitis is considered chronic if symptoms persist longer than 6 months. Chronic hepatitis can last years.
Types of chronic hepatitis:
Causes. Certain viruses and drugs may cause chronic hepatitis in some people, but not in others. Some common causes include:
Symptoms. Symptoms of chronic hepatitis are usually mild. Although the liver damage continues, its progression is usually slow. The following are the most common symptoms of chronic hepatitis. However, each person may experience symptoms differently. Some people may experience no symptoms, while others may experience:
The symptoms of chronic hepatitis may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.
Diagnosis. In addition to a complete medical history and medical examination, diagnostic procedures for chronic hepatitis may include:
Treatment. Specific treatment for chronic hepatitis will be determined by your doctor based on:
The goal of treatment is to stop damage to the liver and ease symptoms. Treatment may include:
Proper hygiene is the key to preventing the spread of many diseases, including hepatitis. Other preventive measures include the following:
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