Hepatitis B And C - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

The liver is a vital organ in the human body, responsible for various important functions. Hepatitis refers to inflammation of the liver. It can occur due to many different reasons such as infections, alcohol abuse, autoimmune response, etc. One of the common causes of hepatitis is viral hepatitis- caused by the hepatitis virus.


There are five types of hepatitis viruses, A, B, C, D, and E. They have different routes of transmission and different outlooks.


In this article, we will be focusing on hepatitis B and C, which cause serious liver infections.


Symptoms of hepatitis:


Regardless of the cause, hepatitis can manifest itself with signs and symptoms such as:


  • Fatigue

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting 

  • Loss of appetite 

  • Abdominal pain

  • Weight loss

  • Diarrhea 

  • Clay-colored stools

  • Dark-colored urine

  • Enlarged liver


Transmission of Hepatitis B and C:


Hepatitis B and C spread from person to person in similar ways such as:


Sharing of needles: Sharing of needles, syringes, razors can serve as a medium for the transmission of hepatitis from one person to another. The use of non-sterilized instruments on different patients or sharing of needles among IV drug abusers poses a high risk of transmission of hepatitis B and C. 


Sexual contact: Hepatitis B and C can be sexually transmitted to the partner. Hepatitis B is more commonly transmitted sexually. Hepatitis C can also be transmitted sexually, but it is more common in homosexual men with AIDS.


Blood transfusions: Unscreened blood transfusion can be a source of transmission of Hepatitis B and C from one person to another.


From mother to child: Pregnant mothers can transmit different infections to the child, such as Hepatitis B and C during childbirth.


Diagnosis of hepatitis:


To diagnose hepatitis,  your doctor will ask for a detailed history and may do a physical exam. Other than that, the following investigations may be suggested:


  • Blood tests

  • Ultrasound

  • Ct scan

  • Liver biopsy



Complications of Hepatitis B and C:


The complications of hepatitis B and C include:


Chronic infection: Both hepatitis B and C can become chronic infections and may not clear up. It causes long-standing inflammation of the liver and can cause cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) or even liver cancer.


Cirrhosis has its complications like:


Esophageal varices: This means enlargement of little veins in the esophagus. When the blood flow through the portal circulation is compromised, it results in the pooling of blood in the esophageal vein causing their enlargement.


Variceal bleeding: Esophageal varices can rupture due to an increased amount of blood as they are thin-walled. Massive bleeding can cause significant blood loss and can be life-threatening.


Ascites: This means accumulation of fluid in the abdomen. Increased pressure in the portal vein causes fluid to leak out in the abdomen. If an infection develops in the accumulated fluid, it can result in spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP), and the infection can spread to other organs.


Hepatic encephalopathy: The liver is responsible for clearing out toxins from the body. When the liver function deteriorates, it results in the accumulation of toxins that affect the brain, causing alteration of mental status. This condition is referred to as hepatic encephalopathy. 


Hepatic failure: Chronic inflammation of the liver can result in a significant decrease in liver function, a condition known as liver failure. 


Liver cancer: Liver cancer is more common with hepatitis C and is a cause of death in patients with a history of hepatitis.



Prevention of hepatitis B and C:


Hepatitis B can be prevented by a vaccine effectively. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine currently available for hepatitis C. Other than a vaccine, the following measures can help prevent transmission of hepatitis B and C:



  • Using sterilized instruments in a healthcare setting

  • Properly discarding needles after use

  • Avoiding sharing of personal articles such as razors

  • Protecting protected sexual intercourse


Other than these measures, screening of hepatitis B and C can help in the timely detection and treatment of hepatitis B and C. Pregnant mothers are routinely screened for hepatitis B and C. It is recommended that newborns receive hepatitis B vaccines to prevent getting hepatitis B.


Treatment of hepatitis B and C:


There may be no need for treatment in the first six months of developing hepatitis B or C, as the infection may clear up on its own. However, if the infection becomes chronic, treatment is started that mainly involves antiviral drugs and interferons. The patient’s liver function is closely monitored to analyze the extent of damage to the liver.


Conclusion:


Hepatitis B and C are serious liver infections requiring medical attention. Sometimes, these infections may get chronic and may become complicated. Practicing preventive measures can help prevent hepatitis B and C. It is highly recommended to get a vaccine for hepatitis B. If you experience any signs and symptoms of hepatitis, consult your doctor.

Doctors For Hepatitis B And C

Dr. Seher Shehzad

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Dr. Muhammad Nabeel

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Dr. Farhat Ali

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Dr. Amir Iqbal

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Dr. Junaid Saleem

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Dr. Muhammad Saeed Uz Zaman

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Dr. Tahir Iqbal

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Dr. Nazir Malik

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Dr. Sameeullah

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