Hepatitis: what it is, types, symptoms and treatments

The liver is the largest organ in our body. Thanks to it, we can digest food, store energy and eliminate toxins from our body. However, like other organs and structures, the liver is not immune to viruses and disease.

Hepatitis is one of the main liver conditions, In one of its different forms. In this article we will analyze what hepatitis is, describe the different types, their symptoms and treatment.

    What is hepatitis?

    Hepatitis is a viral disease that causes inflammation of the liver tissue, Affecting vital organs; mainly in the liver.

    While it is true that some people do not develop symptoms of hepatitis, the most common signs of the onset of the disease include the development of a yellowish tone in the skin and eyes, As well as lack of appetite and a continuous feeling of fatigue.

    Depending on the duration of this (more or less six months), we can distinguish temporary hepatitis and chronic hepatitis. The temporal form presents itself acutely over a period of time, while chronic hepatitis seems less severe but longer.

    However, although temporary or acute hepatitis may go away on its own, sometimes it can develop into chronic hepatitis and very rarely lead to acute liver failure. As for chronic hepatitis, this form can end with liver scarring, liver failure and even liver cancer.

    Most cases of hepatitis are caused by a viral infection. however, drug or alcohol use an abnormal autoimmune response may also be the cause of this liver disease. We can differentiate different types of hepatitis, hepatitis A, B, C, D, classified according to the type of virus or the cause that is the cause.

    In 2015, there were approximately 114 million cases of hepatitis A worldwide; 343 million people with chronic hepatitis B and 142 million with chronic hepatitis C

    As a result, it is estimated that over one million hepatitis deaths occur directly and indirectly each year. In most cases, people with hepatitis die from scarring in the liver or from liver cancer.

      Symptoms of this disease

      Although there are people in whom this disease is asymptomatic, hepatitis it is characterized by a wide range of symptomsRanging from very mild or barely noticeable symptoms to severe liver failure.

      In addition, in each of the different forms of hepatitis, the symptoms can manifest in different ways. However, since the kidney is the main organ affected in all cases, hepatitis may present with the following liver symptoms:

      • Decreased and loss of appetite.
      • Nausea and / or vomiting.
      • Diarrhea.
      • Dark urine and pale stools.
      • Stomach pain.
      • Yellowish discoloration of the skin and eyes or jaundice.

      In cases where hepatitis becomes complicated or becomes chronic liver failure, liver cancer or even cirrhosis can occurA condition that causes permanent healing of the liver. Types of hepatitis: causes and treatment

      1. Hepatitis A

      Hepatitis A is one of the most contagious forms of hepatitis. Caused by the hepatitis A virus, the most likely way to get infected is through contaminated food or water, as well as through close contact with an infected person or object. The most common routes of infection include:

      • Ingestion of food handled by a person with hepatitis A who has not washed their hands properly.
      • Drink contaminated water.
      • Intake of raw crustaceans found in waters contaminated with hepatitis A.
      • Close contact with an infected person.
      • Unprotected sex with an infected person.

      The characteristic symptoms of hepatitis A usually do not appear until the virus stays in the body for a few weeks and do not appear in all patients.


      No specific treatment for hepatitis A has been developed to date. Usually the body is able to clear the virus on its own, It takes about 6 to 6 months for the liver to fully recover.

      However, it is recommended that the person remain at rest, consume high calorie foods, stay hydrated, and avoid alcohol consumption.

      2. Hepatitis B

      As for hepatitis B, it is caused by the hepatitis B virus and its infection is mainly associated with unprotected sexual contact, the exchange of infected needles, accidental puncture with an infected needle or mother-to-child transmission.

      In most cases, hepatitis B becomes chronic, increasing the risk of liver failure, liver cancer, or cirrhosis.


      Treatment for hepatitis B is divided into: treatment to prevent infection after exposure, treatment for acute hepatitis B, and treatment for chronic hepatitis B. For the prevention of hepatitis B infection, medical personnel administer one injection of immunoglobulin and one injection of hepatitis B.

      In acute hepatitis B, treatment may not be necessary because the infection may go away on its own. In mild cases, rest and plenty of hydration are recommended, while in more severe cases antiviral drugs may be needed.

      Finally, chronic hepatitis requires lifelong treatment which decreases both the symptoms and the risk of infection or other people. Treatment for hepatitis B may include antiviral drugs, interferon injections, or even a liver transplant if it is severely damaged.

      3. Hepatitis C

      In the third type of hepatitis, hepatitis C is spread through the spread of blood contaminated with the hepatitis C virus. This means that for infection to occur, blood contaminated with the virus enters the bloodstream of an uninfected person.

      In addition to the usual symptoms, hepatitis C can cause a number of symptoms that are specific to it. These include:

      • Bleeding and bruising easy to chat.
      • Itching on the skin.
      • Accumulation of fluid in the abdomen.
      • Swelling of the legs.
      • Feeling confused, drowsy and having difficulty speaking.
      • Appearance of blood vessels in types of spiders.

      As with hepatitis B, treatment for hepatitis C includes antiviral drugs, hepatitis C vaccines and / or kidney transplantation.

      4. Hepatitis D

      Also known as the delta virus, hepatitis D has the highest death rate and is only spread in the presence of hepatitis B virus; therefore it is considered a sub-viral satellite. Hepatitis D infection can occur either following simultaneous hepatitis B infection or superimposed on chronic hepatitis B.

      These co-infections or superinfections they can lead to much more serious complications in the patient such as liver failure in severe infections and rapid onset and progression of hepatic cirrhosis. This carries a higher risk of kidney cancer.


      It has been shown that the hepatitis B vaccine also protects against the type C virus, For his addiction. However, in the case of a safe infection, treatment with interferon has been shown to be very effective in reducing the viral load and the effect of the disease while the drug is being administered.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Nakamoto, Y., and Kaneko, S. (2003). The mechanisms of viral hepatitis induce liver damage. Current Molecular Medicine, 3 (6): 537-544.
      • Villar, LM, Cruz. HM, Barbosa, JR, Bezerra, CS, Portilho, MM i Scalioni, LP (2015). Diagnostic Update for Hepatitis B and C Viruses. World Journal of Virology, 4 (4): 323-342.
      • Sahani, DV and Kalva, SP (2004). Image of the liver. The Oncologist, 9 (4): 385-397.

      Leave a Comment