Viral Hepatitis

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Hepatitis refers to inflammation of the cells of the liver. The normal functions of the liver are disrupted because of this inflammation. Hepatitis may be caused by some various causes, but it is mainly caused by infection by a group of hepatitis viruses. The group consists of the following viruses:

  • Hepatitis A virus
  • Hepatitis B virus
  • Hepatitis C virus
  • Hepatitis D virus
  • Hepatitis E virus


The causes of spread vary with each different strain of virus:

  1. Hepatitis A virus – spread from ingestion of infected feces (unwashed fruits and vegetables, unclean water)
  2. Hepatitis B virus – spread via Blood, Sexual contact, Pregnancy, Breast feeding.
  3. Hepatitis C virus – spread via Sexual contact, Infected needles
  4. Hepatitis D virus – spread is Parenteral
  5. Hepatitis E virus – spread is waterborne


The severity of the disease symptoms depends on the type of hepatitis virus that has caused the infection. These symptoms may not always be present in an infected patient, but when present, they are the following:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased appetite
  • Nausea
  • Right sided abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Clay-colored stool
  • Painful joints
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)


After a comprehensive history has been taken, and physical examination of the patient has been done, the following tests are done to diagnose viral hepatitis:

  • Complete blood count
  • Liver function tests
  • Liver ultrasound
  • Liver biopsy
  • Viral antigens
  • Antibodies to viral antigens


Treatment of viral hepatitis depends on the type of hepatitis, acute or chronic. Some of the following treatment modalities are used in the treatment of viral hepatitis:

  • Antivirals
  • Interferons
  • Liver transplant
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