Chronic Viral Hepatitis
The liver is an organ that plays an important role in
managing the body's functions including:
What is Hepatitis?
Filters and detoxifies chemicals in what you
eat, breathe, and absorb through the skin
Stores certain vitamins, minerals, sugars, and
Regulates fat stores and controls production and
release of cholesterol
Destroys poisonous substances
Changes the food you eat into energy, clotting
factors, immune factors, hormones, and proteins
Breaks down drugs and medications
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. Inflammation
usually produces swelling, tenderness, and sometimes
permanent damage. Hepatitis is caused by a number of
things including alcohol, drugs, chemicals, and viral
infections. If the inflammation of the liver continues
at least six months or longer, it is called chronic
hepatitis. Currently there are at least five different
viruses known to cause viral hepatitis:
Viral Hepatitis A: Sometimes called "Infectious
Hepatitis." It is spread by eating food or drinking
water contaminated with human feces. This type of viral
hepatitis is infrequently life-threatening.
Viral Hepatitis B: Sometimes called "Serum Hepatitis."
It is spread from mother to child at birth or soon
after, through sexual contact, contaminated blood
transfusions and needles. This form of viral hepatitis
may lead to cirrhosis, or scarring, of the liver.
Viral Hepatitis C: Formerly known as "non-A, non-B
Hepatitis." This form of viral hepatitis is the most
common. It can be spread through blood transfusions and
contaminated needles. However, for a substantial number
of patients, the cause is unknown. This form of viral
hepatitis may lead to cirrhosis, or scarring, of the
Viral Hepatitis D: This form of viral hepatitis is found
most often in IV drug users who are carriers of the
hepatitis B virus. It is spread only in the presence of
the hepatitis B virus and is transmitted in the same
way. This type of viral hepatitis occurs in people who
have viral hepatitis B, and is a serious health problem.
Viral Hepatitis E: This form of viral hepatitis is
similar to viral hepatitis A. It is found most often in
people who live in countries with poor sanitation. It is
rare in North America, and rarely life-threatening.
What are the Symptoms of Viral Hepatitis?
Many cases of viral hepatitis are not diagnosed because
the symptoms are vague and similar to a flu-like
illness. Sometimes, there are no symptoms at all. Some
individuals with viral hepatitis may develop fatigue,
nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, muscle
and joint aches, and changes in the color of urine and
stools. A few of the individuals with viral hepatitis
may develop jaundice. Jaundice means that the skin and
whites of the eyes turn