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Hepatitis

Summary

Hepatitis

Hepatitis is a very general term used to describe inflammation (swelling) of the liver. It can occur as the result of a viral infection or because has been exposed harmful substances such as alcohol. Investigations such as a blood test (liver function test) is the first type of investigation used, although, in some cases a liver biopsy may be necessary.

There are several types of Hepatitis, the most common being Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and Alcoholic Hepatitis. Symptoms of Hepatitis A will usually pass by themselves and do not require treatment. Hepatitis B is caused by the Hepatitis B virus and is usually treated with antiviral medication. Hepatitis C is the most common type and is caused by the Hepatitis C virus, which is mostly submitted through blood-to-blood contact and through sharing needles to inject drugs. Some people may fight off the virus, while others go on to develop cirrhosis and liver failure. It is treated with anti-viral medication.

Autoimmune hepatitis is a very rare type of liver disease, where white blood cells attack the sufferer's liver, causing inflammation and sometimes serious damage to the liver and liver failure may occur. First line of treatment is usually with steroids and another immunosuppressant, called azathioprine. Just as the cause is unknown, a cure is not available.

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