Hepatitis means the inflammatory condition of the liver and it is most often caused by viral infections. Some types of hepatitis will cause discomfort but will eventually go away, while others, like chronic hepatitis C, can be deadly.
Viral types of hepatitis — A, B, C, D and E — are contracted in various ways. Other non-viral causes of hepatitis relate to toxic exposures and autoimmune disease.
Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver cancer, as well as the number one reason for liver transplants in the United States. More than 1.2 million Americans are affected by hepatitis B, and over 3 million have chronic hepatitis C, though many don’t know they are infected.
“The liver is responsible for filtering from the bloodstream harmful substances such as dead cells, toxins, fats, hormones, and a yellowish substance called bilirubin, a by-product of the breakdown of old red blood cells,” says Rashmi Gulati, medical director of Patients Medical in New York City.
“If the liver is inflamed, tender, and enlarged, it becomes unable to function normally. As a result, toxins that would normally be filtered out by the liver build up in the body and certain nutrients are not processed and stored as they should be.” (Matuza: 2008, Drexel University)
Many people know what hepatitis is, while few know or have ever heard about autoimmune hepatitis. Autoimmune hepatitis is a long-term disease where the immune system attacks the liver causing serious inflammation and damage of this vital organ. This is a serious condition which can be life-threatening if it is not identified early on and treated appropriately.
Hepatitis A is usually spread from person to person or by ingesting food or water that is contaminated with the virus. In some cases, raw shellfish from polluted waters can also spread the disease.
Hepatitis B and C are usually spread through infected blood or bodily fluids. Doctors, dentists and nurses, as well as staff and patients at blood banks, dialysis clinics, and pathology laboratories, are at a greater risk of developing these kinds of hepatitis due to accidental blood exposure.
Drug users who share needles are at high risk of contracting hepatitis B and C, as are those who have unprotected sex with an infected person. Substance abuse drastically increases a drug user’s odds of contracting life-changing diseases like HIV, hepatitis B and C, and other STDs. Once a habitual drug abuser is infected, diseases progress quickly and can lead to severe illness and death. © 2019 DrugRehab.com. All rights reserved. Last modified: 2018 ([email protected]).