Viral infections of the liver

Hepatitis relates to inflammation of the liver. A total of 315 outbreaks of viral hepatitis have been reported from 2010 to 2013 and 99 outbreaks in 2013 alone by Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) to National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

Liver, being the main organ involved in metabolizing nutrients, needs rest during hepatitis for the cells to recover and regenerate.

Types of Viral Hepatitis

Hepatitis A

  • Most common form of viral hepatitis
  • Spread due to poor sanitation, eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated by the faeces of an infected person
  • Infection usually clears in up to 2 months, but may occasionally recur or persist longer in some people

Hepatitis B

  • Long term HBV increases risk of developing liver cirrhosis or liver cancer.
  • It is passed on through exchange of bodily fluids
  • Antiviral medication is given as treatment to those with chronic symptoms to help prevent further liver damage

Hepatitis C

  • 80% of people who have chronic hepatitis C infection develop liver cirrhosis
  • HepC virus is spread through blood
  • Antiviral drugs interferon and ribavirin are administered

Is hepatitis same as jaundice?

Jaundice is a symptoms of an underlying disease of the liver and not a disease in itself. The yellowing of the white area of the eyes (sclerae) or sometimes the skin is termed as jaundice. The yellowish pigmentation occurs due to excess bilirubin circulating in the blood. The bilirubin, prepared from old blood cells, is usually recycled into bile in the liver but in case of impaired function, this process is hindered and there is excess bilirubin in circulation. So jaundice is not necessarily due to hepatitis, it could occur as a symptoms of any kind of diseases related to the liver.

Viral hepatitis is detected by testing for presence of specific antibodies such as IgM, Anti-HBc, anti-HCV, etc. Hepatitis viruses are the most common cause of hepatitis in the world but other infections, toxic substances (e.g. alcohol, certain drugs), and autoimmune diseases can also cause hepatitis. It is important to detect and treat hepatitis in time because it can often progress to fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis or liver cancer.




Author: drpoojachhawcharia

Dr Pooja Chhawcharia is the Senior Nutritionist at eKincare with over 7 years of experience in Nutrition education, diet counseling and research. She is a Registered Dietician with the Indian Dietetic Association and Certified Diabetes Educator recognized by the International Diabetes federation . She is also interested in ancillary sciences such as Yoga and Naturopathy.

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