What is hepatitis?
Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver – the largest organ inside the body. It helps digest food, store energy and remove poisons. Hepatitis is usually caused by a virus.
There are three types of hepatitis: Hepatitis A, B and C. Each is named for the virus that causes it. Drug or alcohol use can also cause hepatitis. In less typical cases, hepatitis can be caused when the body mistakenly attacks healthy cells in the liver.
Some people with hepatitis have no symptoms. Others may experience some of the following:
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dark-colored urine and pale bowel movements
- Stomach pain
- Jaundice (symptoms include yellowing of the skin and eyes)
A simple blood test can diagnose hepatitis A, B and C.
Treatment and Prevention
All three kinds of hepatitis can be mild or severe. In some cases, it can lead to scarring, called cirrhosis, or even liver cancer. Hepatitis can last a lifetime or it can go away by itself. In any case, a person who may have hepatitis should always consult and monitor the condition with a health professional. Hepatitis that doesn’t go away by itself can be treated with drugs.
Physicians and nurses at the Ohio State Viral Hepatitis Clinic work together to provide personalized care for each patient. Nursing staff help patients understand the viral hepatitis disease process, side effects of treatment and ways to manage during the treatment period.
As for prevention, there are vaccines that can prevent some viral forms of hepatitis.