Hepatitis – Causes, Treatment, Types, Symptoms & Vaccine | Hepatitis B – UPSC

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Hepatitis is a disease that makes the liver swell up. It messes up many biochemical processes, like making bile, getting rid of it, breaking down fats and proteins, getting enzymes to work, and making proteins.

Hepatitis is usually caused by a virus, but it can also be caused by other things. These include hepatitis that is caused by the body’s immune system and hepatitis that is caused by medications, drugs, chemicals, or alcohol.

• Autoimmune hepatitis is a disease that happens when your body makes antibodies that attack liver cells.

It can be either acute (liver inflammation that causes sickness like redness, fever, and vomiting) or chronic (liver inflammation that lasts for more than six months but doesn’t really cause any symptoms).

Every year on July 28, people around the world celebrate World Hepatitis Day to bring attention to viral hepatitis.

Your liver is in the upper right part of your stomach. It makes bile, which is important for digestion. It filters toxins out of your body. It gets rid of bilirubin (a waste product of broken-down red blood cells), cholesterol, hormones, and drugs. It breaks down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. It activates enzymes, which are special proteins that help your body work. It stores glycogen (a form of sugar), minerals, and vitamins.


• Usually caused by A, B, C, D, and E, which are part of a group of viruses called “hepatotropic” (liver-directed) viruses.

It could also be caused by other viruses, like the varicella virus, which is what makes chickenpox. The virus that causes CoVD-19, called SARS-CoV-2, may also hurt the liver.

A person’s use of drugs or alcohol, a buildup of fat in the liver (called fatty liver hepatitis), or an inflammatory process in which the body makes antibodies that attack the liver (called autoimmune hepatitis) are some of the other things that can cause hepatitis.

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Types of Viral Hepatitis

There are different kinds of viral hepatitis. Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E are all viral diseases of the liver.

Each type of hepatitis that is spread by viruses is caused by a different virus.

Hepatitis A is always an acute, short-term disease, while hepatitis B, C, and D are most likely to become long-lasting and chronic. Hepatitis E is usually serious, but pregnant women are especially at risk.

Hepatitis A:

• Caused by the Hepatitis A virus, it is an infectious disease of the liver. It’s serious, and most young people wouldn’t be able to tell what’s wrong with them. Some of the symptoms are sickness, nausea, fever, severe stomach pain, jaundice, and weakness. These symptoms can last up to eight weeks.

• It can spread to other people through tainted food, water, or close touch with someone who has it. Some easy blood tests can find out what’s wrong. The hepatitis A vaccine helps keep people from getting sick.

Hepatitis B:

• An infection with the Hepatitis B virus causes this disease. It is spread through flat, tired cuts, blood, saliva, and other body fluids from an infected person.Hepatitis B can also be spread by sharing personal items like a razor or toothbrush from a person who has it.

• Hepatitis B can cause stomach pain, tiredness, and rash. Symptoms don’t show up until one to six months have passed. A simple blood test could find out what was wrong.

• Both adults and children could get the Hepatitis B vaccine. It has three medicines that are injected into the muscle. After one month and six months have passed since the first shot, the second and third shots are given.

Hepatitis C

• The Hepatitis C virus in the liver is what causes this sickness. This can be passed on through infected needles, at birth (when an infected mother gives birth to an infected child), through the body fluids of an infected person, or by having sex with more than one partner who is HIV-positive. It is also rarely found in sperm (cum) and in fluids from the uterus.

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Hepatitis C is mostly spread by sharing needles, syringes, or other things with infected blood on them or by using them. It’s also a sexually transmitted illness (STI) that can be spread through unprotected sex, especially when blood is present.It doesn’t spread through food or drink.

• Symptoms include loss of appetite, fatigue, frequent fever, yellowing of the skin or eyes, joint pain, changes in urine, and stomach pain. After a virus has been in the body for six or seven weeks, these signs show up. In rare cases, signs might not show up for years.

• But, unlike hepatitis B, hepatitis C cannot be spread physically, and there is no known vaccine for it.

Hepatitis D:

This is a serious liver disease caused by the Hepatitis D virus (HDV). It spreads through blood or wounds that are infectious. It can sometimes happen at the same time as Hepatitis B.

• Hepatitis D is a rare form of hepatitis that only happens at the same time as hepatitis B. Without hepatitis B, the hepatitis D virus can’t grow and spread.

Hepatitis E:

The hepatitis E virus (HEV), which causes hepatitis E, spreads through water. It can be spread through contaminated food, water, or blood.

• Hepatitis E is most common in places with bad health and is usually caused by drinking water that has been contaminated by faeces. It could be short-term or long-term.

Problems caused by hepatitis

Hepatitis B or C that lasts for a long time can sometimes lead to more major health problems. Since the virus affects the liver, people with chronic hepatitis B or C are at risk for:

• Long-term liver disease

• cirrhosis • cancer of the liver

Liver failure can happen when your liver stops working as it should. Some problems that can arise from liver failure are:

• bleeding diseases

Ascites is a buildup of fluid in your belly, and portal hypertension is high blood pressure in the veins that lead to your liver.

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• kidney failure

• Hepatic encephalopathy, which can cause fatigue, memory loss, and a decrease in mental skills due to the buildup of toxins like ammonia that affect brain function.

• hepatocellular carcinoma, a type of liver cancer

• death

People with long-term B or C hepatitis are told to stay away from drinking because it can make liver disease and failure worse. Some vitamins and medicines can also change how the liver works.


Global Scenario:

• Each year, 1.3 million people die because of Hepatitis B and C. This is more than any other reason of death.

• In 2016, 194 governments around the world signed on to the World Health Organization’s global plan to get rid of viral hepatitis by 2030.

• 40 million people have a long-term infection with the Hepatitis B virus, and 6 to 12 million people have a long-term infection with the Hepatitis C virus.

• The National Viral Hepatitis Programme was set up by the government in 2018. The programme is the biggest one in the world for diagnosing and treating Hepatitis B and C.

 Hepatitis B is included under India’s Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) which provides free of cost vaccination against eleven (excluding Hepatitis B) vaccine-preventable diseases i.e. Tuberculosis, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Polio, Pneumonia, and Meningitis due to Haemophilus Influenzae type b (Hib), Measles, Rubella, Japanese Encephalitis (JE) and Rotavirus diarrhoea.