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A guide to hepatitis: Symptoms, cause, treatment

Last updated on: July 27, 2012 17:08 IST

Dr Tarun Gupta

On World Hepatitis Day which is the 28th Of July, Dr Tarun Gupta, a gastroenterologist from Hinduja HealthCare Surgical, gives us more insight on this condition and has provided basic information for combating the condition successfully.

What is hepatitis?

Hepatitis is swelling and inflammation of the liver. It is a condition, often a result of viral infection of the liver. It may also be due to non-infective causes like excessive alcohol intake or other metabolic causes.

What are the causes of hepatitis?

There are different sources from which this condition arises such as:

  • Immune cells in the body attacking the liver and causing auto-immune 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

A guide to hepatitis: Symptoms, cause, treatment

Can such a condition be caused by inherited disorders?

Liver disease can also be caused by inherited disorders such as Wilson disease, alpha-1antitrypsin deficiency or hemochromatosis, a condition that involves having too much iron in your body (the excess iron deposits in the liver)

What are the symptoms of hepatitis?

The symptoms of hepatitis include:

  • Abdominal pain or distention breast development in male
  • Dark urine and pale or clay-coloured stools
  • Fatigue
  • Fever, usually low-grade
  • Generalised itching
  • Jaundice (yellowish discoloration of the skin or eyes)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight loss

How long does one take to recover from hepatitis? What are its long term effects?

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 is the hepatitis 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.

Tags: Wilson , Nausea

A guide to hepatitis: Symptoms, cause, treatment

What kind of tests or examinations must one go through while suffering from this condition?

A physical examination may show:

  • Enlarged and tender liver
  • Fluid in the abdomen (ascites) that can become infected
  • Yellowish discoloration of the skin

However, a doctor may order laboratory tests to diagnose and monitor the hepatitis, including:

  • Liver function tests
  • Hepatitis virus serologies
  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Autoimmune blood markers
  • Liver biopsy to check for liver damage
  • Paracentesis if fluid is in your abdomen

A guide to hepatitis: Symptoms, cause, treatment

In this nutrition centric world, what kind of food can a person with hepatitis consume and what must they avoid?

Your doctor will discuss possible treatments with you, depending on the cause of your liver disease. The doctor may recommend a high-calorie diet if you are losing weight.

One must also avoid consuming the following food:

  • Animal products
  • Tap water
  • Caffeine: colas, chocolate, coffee, some teas, OTC meds
  • Junk food
  • White flour unless it is organic or bleached
  • Hydrogenated oils
  • Dairy products (animal) -- yogurt however can be consumed
  • Fruit juices -- high in concentration juices
  • Artificial sweeteners (use liquid stevia instead)
  • Processed food
While eating out what must one suffering from hepatitis choose to order?

One can consume the following foods while eating out:

  • Spaghetti -- with or without a meat substitute
  • Macaroni and cheese -- use the Soy-Sation or a tofu cheese
  • Tacos -- using a meat substitute and lots of seasoning
  • Toastados
  • Enchiladas
  • Hamburgers -- there are lots of meat substitutes like grain burgers
  • Hot dogs -- tofu hot dogs
  • Chili beans
  • Tuna salad
  • Chicken salad -- made from canned chicken
  • Puddings -- sweetened with liquid Stevia, using better than milk
  • Cake -- in moderation using unbleached flours. Eat desserts in moderation
  • Distilled water with a little lemon or lime juice and liquid stevi
  • Whole wheat waffles or pancakes -- top with a fruit puree sweetened with liquid stevia
  • Pizza -- whole wheat crust and vegetarian and cheese
  • Baked potatoes topped with cheese, or a vegetable or both
  • Yogurt