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Decatur, AL 35601
© 2011. Riverside Gastroenterology
1304 Somerville Rd., Decatur, AL 35601
Hepatitis is a disease that includes any type of inflammation of the liver, the result of a complex process that occurs when the liver suffers an injury. Doctors call the inflammation that lasts less than six months acute hepatitis and inflammation that lasts longer than six months chronic hepatitis. While there are many causes of liver inflammation, clinicians divide them into two main categories: viral hepatitis and non-infectious hepatitis.
Hepatitis can be caused by:
• Immune cells in the body attacking the liver and causing autoimmune hepatitis
• Infections from viruses (such as hepatitis A, B, or C), bacteria, or parasites
• Liver damage from alcohol, poisonous mushrooms, or other poisons
• Medications, such as an overdose of acetaminophen, which can be deadly
The different types of hepatitis can include:
• Alcoholic hepatitis
• Autoimmune hepatitis
• Delta agent (hepatitis D)
• Drug-induced hepatitis
• Hepatitis A
• Hepatitis B
• Hepatitis C
Liver disease can also be caused by inherited disorders such as cystic fibrosis or hemochromatosis, a condition that involves having too much iron in your body (the excess iron deposits in the liver), and Wilson’s Disease (another inherited disease).
Hepatitis may start and get better quickly (acute hepatitis), or cause long-term disease (chronic hepatitis). In some instances, it may lead to liver damage, liver failure, or even liver cancer.
How severe hepatitis is depends on many factors, including the cause of the liver damage and any illnesses you have. Hepatitis A, for example, is usually short-term and does not lead to chronic liver problems.
The symptoms of hepatitis include:
• Abdominal pain or distention
• Breast development in males
• Dark urine and pale or clay-colored stools
• Fever, usually low-grade
• General itching
• Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
• Loss of appetite
• Nausea and vomiting
• Weight loss
Many people with hepatitis B or C do not have symptoms when they are first infected. They can still develop liver failure later. If you have any risk factors for either type of hepatitis, you should be tested regularly.
• Have symptoms from too much acetaminophen or other medicines -- you may need to have your stomach pumped
• Vomit blood
• Have bloody or tarry stools
• Are confused or delirious