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Viral Hepatitis

Viral Hepatitis is a condition that affects near about 300 million people across the globe. Unfortunately, only 20 percent of the patients know that they are infected. Viral hepatitis, as the name suggests, refers to severe inflammation in the liver that is triggered by certain viruses. It is highly contagious and can be either acute or chronic. Viral hepatitis is often referred to as a silent killer as the symptoms are not usually evident till the condition has progressed to a later stage. Nearly 1.5 million people lose their battle with viral hepatitis every year.

What is Viral Hepatitis?

Hepatitis is a condition in which the liver becomes inflamed. This can happen due to a variety of different factors, however, in the case of viral hepatitis, the underlying reason is a viral infection. This makes the condition highly contagious. Viral hepatitis is broadly classified into two types, i.e acute viral hepatitis which does not last for more than 6 months, and chronic viral hepatitis, which lasts for longer than six months.

What are the different types of Viral Hepatitis?

Viral hepatitis is broadly classified into 5 different types. These are:

  • Hepatitis A – The infection is acute and does not involve any serious complications. It may take a couple of months to heel completely. Liver failure due to Hepatitis A has been seen in rare cases.
  • Hepatitis B – The infection can be acute or chronic, with the former being more common. Younger people are at a higher risk of developing chronic infections. The patient may not have any evident symptoms. Hepatitis B is vaccine-preventable.
  • Hepatitis C – The infection is mostly chronic, i.e. lasts for a very long period of time. It does not present with any visible symptoms and there is no vaccine available to prevent it.
  • Hepatitis D – The infection can only be seen in people who have been affected with the Hepatitis B virus as well. The same vaccine that works for Hepatitis B will help to protect you against Hepatitis D as well
  • Hepatitis E – The viral infection spreads via food and water that has been contaminated with the virus. It happens to be one of the most common types of hepatitis.

What are the symptoms of Viral Hepatitis?

Symptoms that suggest that a person may have viral hepatitis include:

  • Passing dark-colored urine
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Having jaundice-like symptoms
  • Passing pale stools
  • Unexplained loss of appetite
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Nausea

When is the right time to see a doctor?

It is advisable to see a liver specialists as soon as you notice any of the symptoms. Experiencing these does not necessarily indicate that you have viral hepatitis and hence it is better to go for a detailed assessment before reaching any conclusion.

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