Hepatitis refers to the inflammation of the liver. It is most commonly caused due to hepatitis virus. However, it can also be caused due to autoimmune diseases, medications, toxins, and alcohol. Viral hepatitis infections are classified as hepatitis A, B, C, D and E out of which, hepatitis A, B, and C occur most commonly.
Modes of transmission of hepatitis virus:
- Hepatitis A: This virus is found in the stools of the infected person. This virus is spread when in the person consumes food and water contaminated by the stools of the infected person.
- Hepatitis B and C: These viruses are found in the body fluids such as blood, semen and vaginal secretions. This infection is spread by sexual contact or sharing needles with the infected person.
- Hepatitis D: It causes the most deadly form of hepatitis. It is transmitted through infected blood during blood transfusion or sharing needles.
- Hepatitis E: It is a waterborne infection. It is commonly found in areas with poor sanitation and contaminated water.
Signs and symptoms
Viral hepatitis does not exhibit symptoms in the initial few weeks. However, the following signs may be seen in the advanced disease:
- Jaundice: Yellowing of skin and sclera of the eyes due to excessive bilirubin in the blood
- Dark urine
- Pale stools
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Muscle or joint aches
- Weight loss
Diagnosis of Hepatitis
If your doctor suspects hepatitis, he would order certain tests to evaluate the liver condition and to find the cause of hepatitis.
A sample of blood is taken to evaluate and analyze the indicators of liver function. Your physician may recommend the below tests.
- Alanine Transaminase (ALT) test: ALT is an enzyme that helps in breaking down protein and is found in the liver. A normal ALT test result ranges from 7 to 55 units per liter (U/L). High levels of ALT indicate decreased liver function.
- Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) test: AST is a liver enzyme, which is also present in certain parts of the body such as heart and muscles. Elevated levels of AST indicate liver damage. Elevation in the levels of AST due to the exposure to toxic drugs or alcoholism is less than the elevation of AST due to hepatitis. .
- Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) test: ALP is an enzyme found in liver, bile duct, and bone. The normal levels of ALP are 44 to 147 IU/L. Elevated levels of ALP may indicate liver disease, obstruction of the bile duct or bone disorder.
- Serum Albumin: Albumin is a protein made by the liver. The normal range of serum albumin levels in the blood is 3.4 to 5.4 grams per deciliter. Low albumin levels can indicate the presence of liver disease, malnutrition, nephrotic syndrome, Crohn’s disease or celiac disease.
- Bilirubin test: Bilirubin test of performed to assess the amount of bilirubin present in the blood. The normal range of bilirubin test in adults are:
- Normal total bilirubin is 0.2 – 1.2 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) of blood.
- Normal results for conjugated bilirubin should be less than 0.3 mg/dl.
Elevated levels of bilirubin in the blood may indicate viral hepatitis.
Prothrombin time (PT) test
Prothrombin is a blood coagulation protein produced by the liver. This test helps in measuring the time taken for the formation of blood clots. Delayed Prothrombin time (PT) indicates hepatitis or liver damage.
An antibody test is performed to identify the virus causing the infection and to determine the stage of infection. The absence of hepatitis antibodies in your blood sample indicates a negative result, which means there is no hepatitis infection.
An ultrasound scan is usually done to observe for the signs of scarring of liver tissue. A transducer is moved over your abdominal area, which uses ultrasound waves to create images of the liver.
If you have chronic hepatitis, a sample of your liver tissue is obtained and studied in the laboratory. A liver biopsy is essential to determine the stage and severity of the infection.
How to treat Hepatitis?
In most people, acute hepatitis infections will be resolved without medical interventions. However, certain oral or injectable antiviral drugs are used to treat chronic hepatitis B and C. There are no medications available to treat hepatitis E infection. Autoimmune hepatitis can be treated with corticosteroids drugs.
Prevention of Hepatitis
- Protect yourself from hepatitis infection by taking hepatitis vaccination on time.
- Avoid preparing or consuming food without washing your hands thoroughly.
- Ensure safe and sterilized equipment before any medical or dental interventions.
- Avoid sharing straws, razors, household articles such as water glasses etc.
- Avoid touching or cleaning spilled blood without using hand gloves.
- Practice safe sex measures to avoid the transmission of hepatitis B virus.
- Take safety measures while getting any tattoos or body piercings to avoid infections.
Why choose Apollo Diagnostics?
We have the expertise of 34 + years in healthcare. Our labs are equipped with EQUAS (External Quality Assurance System) and loaded with full automated machines to ensure error free reports, with a quick turnaround time, and at an affordable price. For your convenience, we offer free home collection of samples.
For appointments, please call 4444 2424.
- What is hepatitis? https://www.healthline.com/health/hepatitis#diagnosis . Accessed on 25-10-2017
- Symptoms. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/145869.php . Accessed on 25-10-2017
- Tests, hepatitis. https://labtestsonline.org/understanding/conditions/hep/start/2 . Accessed on 25-10-2017
- Hepatitis: Symptoms, treatment & Prevention. https://www.livescience.com/34735-hepatitis-symptoms-treatment.html . Accessed on 25-10-2017
- How hepatitis is treated. https://www.healthline.com/health/hepatitis#treatment . Accessed on 25-10-2017