Chronic hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that normally lasts for more than at least 6 months. It may be mild, causing relatively little damage, or more serious causing many liver cells to be destroyed. Most people have no symptoms, but some have vague symptoms like a general feeling of illness, poor appetite, and fatigue.
Hepatitis is an inflammatory condition of the liver which occurs commonly as a result of a viral infection. However, there are other possible causes of hepatitis. The liver being a vital organ tasked with processing nutrients, filtering the blood, and fighting infections among other roles, its damage affects its functions.
Symptoms of Chronic Hepatitis
- Accumulation of fluid within the abdomen
- Coagulopathy-tendency to bleed
- Deterioration of muscles
- An enlarged spleen
Causes of Chronic Hepatitis
Causes of chronic hepatitis include:
Alcohol consumption: This can cause chronic hepatitis especially if associated with inadequate nutrition. Even moderated consumption of alcohol can also cause chronic hepatitis especially if the patient is suffering from hepatitis C.
Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH): This is a relatively common cause of persistent inflammation of the liver. Most people do not present any symptoms, and the condition is usually discovered when a routine blood test is performed, and the level of enzymes is found to be above normal.
Autoimmune hepatitis: This is a condition whereby the immune system mistakenly destroys the body’s own cells. What exactly triggers autoimmune chronic hepatitis is still unknown.
If left untreated, chronic hepatitis’ progressive nature can easily lead to cirrhosis. Autoimmune hepatitis most often affects young women but can still affect young men and women of all ages.
Diagnosis of Chronic Hepatitis
Chronic hepatitis does not present any obvious early symptoms; therefore, the condition is commonly discovered during a routine blood test. If a doctor discovers that the patient may have chronic hepatitis, he/she might recommend an examination for jaundice, tenderness in the abdomen, and signs of fluid that fills the abdomen during liver failure.
If chronic hepatitis becomes more severe, the patient may experience additional symptoms like Jaundice, abdominal swelling, weight loss, and muscle weakness.
Treatment of Chronic Hepatitis
Treatment of chronic hepatitis is mainly tailored to prevent the disease from getting worse and to prevent cirrhosis and liver failure.
An individual suffering from hepatitis C should receive the vaccine for hepatitis A and B unless blood tests show that he/she is already immune to these viruses. He/she can develop more severe symptoms from hepatitis A or B than someone who does not have hepatitis C.
If there’s evidence of cirrhosis, one should undergo a diagnostic procedure known as an endoscopic ultrasound which looks for esophageal varices and enlarged veins in the esophagus that can cause life-threatening bleeding.
Treatment for less common forms of chronic hepatitis focuses on the underlying condition that is causing the hepatitis. However, a liver transplant is recommended if cirrhosis or liver failure develops.
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