Identifying hepatitis infection - Clinical Advisor

Identifying hepatitis infection

Slideshow

  • This image shows a healthy liver (left), a fatty liver (center), and a liver with cirrhosis (right), a common and severe hepatitis complication characterized by the replacement of normal tissue with fibrous tissue, and the loss of functional liver cells.

    Liver cirrhosis_Hepatitis Slideshow

    This image shows a healthy liver (left), a fatty liver (center), and a liver with cirrhosis (right), a common and severe hepatitis complication characterized by the replacement of normal tissue with fibrous tissue, and the loss of functional liver cells.

  • Hepatitis A, B and C symptoms may include abdominal pain or distention, breast development in men, dark urine, pale or clay-colored stool, fatigue, low-grade fever, general itching, jaundice (pictured), loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and weight loss. When hepatitis B and C become chronic, they may cause no symptoms for years, but liver damage can occur before there are any warning signs.

    Jaundice_Hepatitis Slideshow

    Hepatitis A, B and C symptoms may include abdominal pain or distention, breast development in men, dark urine, pale or clay-colored stool, fatigue, low-grade fever, general itching, jaundice (pictured), loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and weight loss. When hepatitis B and C become chronic, they may cause no symptoms for years, but liver damage can occur before there are any warning signs.

  • The most common treatment for chronic hepatitis C is a combination of antiviral medications called interferon and ribavirin. Interferon is given as a shot and ribavirin is a pill. Studies suggest this combination can cure or control hepatitis C in about half of patients. Recently, the FDA approved two new drugs for patients who don’t respond to these therapies — the protease inhibitors boceprevir and telaprevir.

    Hepatitis Treatment_Hepatitis Slideshow

    The most common treatment for chronic hepatitis C is a combination of antiviral medications called interferon and ribavirin. Interferon is given as a shot and ribavirin is a pill. Studies suggest this combination can cure or control hepatitis C in about half of patients. Recently, the FDA approved two new drugs for patients who don’t respond to these therapies — the protease inhibitors boceprevir and telaprevir.

  • Liver cancer, shown in light green in the upper left of this CT scan, is another hepatitis complication. This patient, a 45-year-old woman, has a large hepatocellular carcinoma (dark green) within the liver. Calcification (purple dots) is also seen. The liver is the largest gland in the body, and has many vital roles that include metabolising nutrients and detoxifying the blood. This makes liver cancer treatment difficult and prognosis poor.

    Liver cancer_Hepatitis Slideshow

    Liver cancer, shown in light green in the upper left of this CT scan, is another hepatitis complication. This patient, a 45-year-old woman, has a large hepatocellular carcinoma (dark green) within the liver. Calcification (purple dots) is also seen. The liver is the largest gland in the body, and has many vital roles that include metabolising nutrients and detoxifying the blood. This makes liver cancer treatment difficult and prognosis poor.

  • Hepatitis spreads in different ways depending on the serotype. Hepatitis A is spread through contaminated food and water. Hepatitis B primarily spreads through unprotected sex or sharing needles. Hepatitis C is a bloodborne infection; therefore, injection drug users and people who get tattoos at increased risk for infection.

    Hepatitis risk factors_Hepatitis Slideshow

    Hepatitis spreads in different ways depending on the serotype. Hepatitis A is spread through contaminated food and water. Hepatitis B primarily spreads through unprotected sex or sharing needles. Hepatitis C is a bloodborne infection; therefore, injection drug users and people who get tattoos at increased risk for infection.

  • Patients with hepatitis should undergo regular blood tests and ultrasound or CT scans, as pictured, to determine the presence and stage of liver fibrosis or cirrhosis.

    Liver CT scan_Hepatitis slideshow

    Patients with hepatitis should undergo regular blood tests and ultrasound or CT scans, as pictured, to determine the presence and stage of liver fibrosis or cirrhosis.

Hepatitis is swelling and inflammation of the liver caused by viral infection with hepatitis A, B or C; bacteria or parasites; autoimmune disorders; or from drug overdose or alcohol abuse.

The severity of hepatitis depends on many factors, including the cause of the liver damage and the presence of comorbid conditions. Hepatitis A is usually short-term and does not lead to chronic liver problems. Many patients with hepatitis B and C are initially asymptomatic, but may develop liver failure later. Learn more in the slideshow below.

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