Hepatitis is the presence of inflammatory cells in the liver tissue caused by excessive alcohol drinking, disorders of the gall bladder or pancreas, including medication side effects, and infections. In this article, we will discuss Causes, Symptoms, Types, Prevention and Treatment of hepatitis.
I. Causes of hepatitis
A person can develop hepatitis if they contract one of the viruses that can cause liver inflammation, or as a result of exposure to substances that can cause hepatitis. There are two ways that can lead to hepatitis: it can either occur as a result of infections or from autoimmune processes.
Hepatitis can be divided into two subgroups:
1. Acute hepatitis
Acute hepatitis caused by the below in result of inflammation that causes damaging to the liver’s normal function and lasting less than six months. People having a weakened immune system and weaken liver, making them more susceptible to be infected by hepatitis.
a) Infectious viral hepatitis such as hepatitis A, B, C, D, E.
b) Inflammation of liver caused by Epstein-Barr virus and cytomegalovirus.
c) Inflammation of liver caused by other bacteria.
d) Medication overdose causing damage to liver tissues and cells such as tranquilizers, chemotherapeutic agents, antibiotics and anesthetics.
e) Excessive alcohol drinking.
2. Chronic hepatitis:
Chronic hepatitis means active, ongoing inflammation of the liver persisting for more than six months. Chronic hepatitis, although much less common than acute hepatitis, can persist for years, even decades. In most people, it is quite mild and does not cause significant liver damage. It may be caused by hepatitis B and C viruses, drugs and excessive alcohol drinking. It can also result in cirrhosis, with an enlarged spleen and fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity. In some people, continued inflammation slowly damages the liver, eventually resulting in severe scarring of the liver, liver failure and sometimes liver cancer.
Jaundices caused by the excession of a chemical called bilirubin accumulated in the body’s tissues. When the liver is damaged by hepatitis virus, it’s unable to do its normal job and this chemical accumulates in the blood and starts to leak out into body tissue resulting in a yellow color in the skin, and especially around the whites of the eyes.
2. Loss of appetite
Loss of appetite is also called anorexia, is often the first symptom of acute hepatitis. Sometimes this symptom lasts for a very short time before being replaced by nausea and vomiting.
Fatigue is a debilitating tiredness and is a big source of frustration for people with liver disease. When the liver is damaged, feelings of extreme weakness is common.
4. Pain in the muscles and joints
Pain in the muscles and joints can last from days to weeks and are very common in acute hepatitis infection.
5. Low blood sugar
Infection by Hepatitis A virus may cause low blood sugar. Therefore regular monitoring of blood glucose level with constant glucose infusion is essential, because dangerously low blood sugar is a constant threat.
Insomnia is caused by liver inflammation of hepatitis virus C leading to trouble of sleeping, and waking up often during the night. Some people also experience unusually vivid, intense and frightening dreams.
People with hepatitis C sometimes have pruritus, itching to the palms of the hand and the soles of the feet.
Hepatitis may also cause inflammation of lymph nodes. They usually appear in the armpits, groin and neck.
Hepatitis C also causes a sense of weakness. This symptom can vary from mild to severe and tends to come and go.
If you have any of the above symptoms, please consult with your doctor immediately.
III. Types of Hepatitis
1. Hepatitis A (HAV)
Hepatitis A causes swelling and inflammation in the liver and is very common in underdeveloped countries, resulting in drinking water or eating food that is infected by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). It can also be transmitted through sexual intercourse. This type of hepatitis usually has slow onset and most people fully recover. Hepatitis A can be discovered by blood testing.
2. Hepatitis B (HBV)
Hepatitis B virus is most often contracted via blood contact such as blood, semen, body fluids, IV drug abusers sharing needles or someone using tainted needles. It can also be transmitted through sexual contact and from mother to baby during childbirth. Hepatitis B causes inflammation of the liver leading to a serious infection that can cause liver damage, which may result in cancer.
3. Hepatitis C (HCV)
Hepatitis C, like hepatitis B is spread via blood and body-fluid contact such as blood, semen, body fluid, IV drug abusers sharing needles or someone using tainted needles. Hepatitis C used to be the most common type of hepatitis acquired through blood transfusions until a test for it became available in the 1980s. Hepatitis C causes inflammation of the liver resulting in liver damage that can lead to cancer. It also commonly leads to chronic liver inflammation and slowly damagesthe liver over a long period of time before leading to cirrhosis of the liver, that means scar tissue replacing normal, healthy tissue in result of blocking the flow of blood through the liver and preventing it from from working as it should.
4. Hepatitis D (HDV)
Hepatitis D is caused by the virus HDV. You can only get hepatitis D if you are already infected with hepatitis B. Hepatitis D also causes inflammation of liver and is transmitted through infected blood, needles and sexual contact with with a person infected with HDV.
5. Hepatitis E (HEV)
Similar to hepatitis A, hepatitis E is also caused by drinking water or eating food that os infected by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). It can also be transmitted through sexual intercourse causing temporary swelling of the liver and no long term damage to it.
IV. Prevention and Treatment
A. With Foods
1. Fresh water algae
Fresh water algae contains high amounts of antioxidant-chlorophyll that has the power in strengthening the immune system to fight any bacteria and virus infection. It also helps in cleansing liver toxins as well as fat build-up in liver.
2. Whole grain products
Whole grain product stimulates the liver to rid the body of toxins, supports the heart and is rich in protein, B vitamins, and fiber. It also helps lower blood cholesterol, reduce tumors, strengthens the immune and treats hepatitis.
3. Green vegetable juices
The fresh raw vegetable juices are vitally important in the nutritional treatment of hepatitis. Green Vegetable juice contains high amounts of vitamin C, bioflavonoids, carotenoids, living plant enzymes to aid digestion & vitamin K resulting in cleansing of liver toxins as well as strengthening the immune system, helping to fight against hepatitis infection.
5. Cold water fish
Cold water fish contain high amounts of essential fatty acids that helps to support the detoxification pathways in the liver, break down toxic chemicals and toxins from the blood stream. A healthy liver filter will keep your blood stream clean and free of dangerous toxins and microorganisms. The regular use of a liver tonic such as essential fatty acids support the repair of liver cells.
6. Limit daily intake of alcohol
Alcohol is a potent toxin to the liver. Excessive alcohol drinking can lead to cirrhosis and its complications, including liver cancer.
7. Stop smoking
Cigarette fumes contain high amounts of cadmium, a toxic chemical that causes not only blood clots but also weakens the immune system functioning by fighting against harmful viruses and detoxifying the liver.
B. With Chinese Herbs
Here are some Chinese herbs that have been used to prevent and treat hepatitis with proven results.
1. Natural schisandra
Schisandradra contains essential oils, acids and lignans that help to regenerate liver tissue caused by excessive drinking of alcohol and hepatitis virus.
2. Milk thistle
consists of three components silybin, silydianin, and silychristin that help to reverse liver damage from alcohol, liver injure in result of chronic hepatitis and sloe the advance of cirrhosis.
3. Dan shen Danshen
is frequently used for these problems in combination with other herbs in treating liver diseases such as cirrhosis, fibrosis, and chronic hepatitis B.
Lycii contains high amount of beta-carotene that helps to nourish and tonify liver and kidney.
5. Chinese licorice
Licorice contains a compound called glycyrrhizin and has a long history of medicinal use in both Eastern and Western systems of medicine in treating infections caused by viruses, such as hepatitis.
Astragalus is used conbination with other Chinese herbs are thought to possess properties in treating cancer, viral infection and immune system disorder. Astragalus is an ingredient in
7. Baikal scullcap
Baikal scullcap contains a chemical of baikalin that helps liver to detoxification and fight against liver infection.
8. Gynostemma pentaphylla
This herb has been used over thousand years in Chinese history in treating a variety of diseases such as high blood fat, heart disease, strengthen immune system as well as hepatitis.
9. American ginseng
American ginseng contain the ginsenosides ingredient that is effective in preventing GalN-induced liver cell damage and is a useful agent for chemoprevention of cancer or inflammatory diseases such as liver infection by hepatitis virus.
C. With Nutrition
1. Cranberry juice
Study shows that cranberry juice can be used as alternative antibody in helping our immune system fight off the hepatitis virus before it can do damage to the liver.
2. Lemon juice
Lemon juice contains high amounts of vitamin C that helps to fight against free radical build up in our body as well as detoxifying liver cells damaged by hepatitis viruses to regenerate, forming new liver cells.
3. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar contains malic acid and acetic acid and it is effective against most viral diseases including Hepatitis virus.
4. Olive leaf
Olive leaf helps to improve immune system and contains achemical oleuropein which converts to elenolic acid in the body. The oleuropein targets viruses and bad bacteria before they can cause any damage to the body including liver, while relaxing blood vessels.
Peppermint is a stimulant that helps to relieve digestive disturbances caused by chronic hepatitis by stimulating the release of bile.
Honey provides the energy needed by the body for blood formation and blood cleansing. It also increases the liver’s glycogen through the increase of blood glucose, helping the liver to function properly and fight against hepatitis virus.
7. Royal jelly
Royal jelly contains protein, vitamins B, C, E, niacin and pantothenic acid that helps to strengthen our immune system, protecting our body against any viruses including the hepatitis virus as well as cleansing toxic deposits in the body.
8. Green tea
Green tea contains the highest concentration of powerful antioxidants called polyphenols that scavenge free radicals. It also seems to protect the liver from the damaging effects of toxic substances such as alcohol.
D. With Supplements
1. Vitamin C
It is found only in fruits and vegetables and is highest in fresh, uncooked foods. Vitamin C is an antioxidant vitamin. It helps prevent oxidation of water-soluble molecules that could otherwise create free radicals. Vitamin C not only stimulates the immune system but also improves the prevention and treatment of infections and other diseases.
2. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin with antioxidant properties and is used for prevention or treatment of numerous health conditions such as liver detoxification. Vitamin E levels have been shown to be low in people with hepatitis as well as in those who later develop liver cancer from long-standing hepatitis therefore increasing the amount of intake of vitamin E may protect the liver from damage in people with hepatitis C.
3. B vitamins
B vitamins support metabolic functions, including energy production, nerve cell immune system functions and as well as antioxidant activity.
Selenium is an essential trace mineral that helps in cleansing liver toxins. Selenium is proven to have a protective role against hepatitis B. The right dose of selenium will help to ware off liver cancer.
5. Flax seed
Flax seed is an excellent vegetarian source of essential fatty acids that helps to reduce inflammation of liver and restore damaged liver cell membranes. It will also support the filter inside the liver, which removes microorganisms, dead cells and toxins from the blood stream.
L-Glutamine contains high amounts of amino acid and natural growth hormones that help to combat the effect of alcohol addiction, benefiting the liver and strengthening the immune system.
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7. S-adenosymethionine (SAMe)
Study shows that S-adenosymethionine (SAMe) has ananti-oxidant effects in chronic liver disease and in the treatment of viral hepatitis C. It also helps to restore abnormalities and cellular dysfunctions in human liver disease. Oral SAMe is also helpful in treating patients with chronic liver disease.
E. With Herbs
1. Red clover
Rich in micro-nutrients it possesses activity against several bacteria. A good dietary supplement of vitamin A and Iron, it also contains B- complex, vitamins C,F, and P, some selenium, cobalt, nickel, manganese, sodium and is particularly rich in magnesium, calcium and copper.
2. Oregon grape root
The herb stimulates the action on the liver and is one of the best blood cleansers. Mild stimulant to the thyroid functions and aids in the assimilation of nutrients.
Echinacea is an immuno stimulant. Enhancing the body’s resistance against both bacterial and viral infections it is probably the best detoxifying agent in Western Herbalism. It cleanses the blood and lymph systems, helps arrest pus formation and tissue putrefaction
Sarsaparilla purifies the urino-genital tract, dispelling all infection and inflammation. It’s purifying action extends to the nervous system and is therefore useful in many nervous disorders. Sarsaparilla’s diaphoretic and blood cleansing action is useful for rheumatic inflammation.
5. Licorice root
Licorice root is a natural anti-inflammatory agent. It helps to increase the secretion of digestive enzymes and bile and is widely regarded as the supreme liver tonic.
It clears congestion, reduces swelling and dispels toxins via the skin, kidneys and bowel. It is a nutritive and rejuvenatory tonic . Historically it has been used to support the action of the kidneys in urinary tract infections.
Dandelion cleanses the liver, kidneys, lymph and bowel and is ideal for toxic blood conditions. It increases the secretion of digestive enzymes and bile and is widely regarded as the supreme liver tonic.
F. With Common Sense Approaches
1. Reduce intake of saturated and trans fats
Uncontrolled diet that is high in saturated and trans fats not only cause cholesterol build up in your arteries but also increase high blood pressure and also damaging the immune system. It also is the main contributor to gallstone formation, fat liver that reduce the normal function of liver and making it vulnerable for virus infections.
2. Avoid intake of processed foods
Processed food contain high amounts of salt and artificial food additives that causes free radicals to build up in the body and high blood pressure. They are also toxic to the liver causing the kidney and liver to work harder in cleansing the extra toxins in the bloodstream. If this lasts for a prolonged period, they may damage the kidney and liver causing liver inflammation if infected by the hepatitis virus.
3. Limit alcohol drinking
Drinking a maximum of 250 ml for women and 500 ml for men will help the circulation of blood, nourish the body’s cells, and strengthen the immune system and liver. Excessive drinking not only causes liver inflammation, but will also lead to cirrhosis.
4. Drink a lot of green and yellow juices
Green and yellow juices contain high amounts of vitamins C, E and B that help to detoxify the body’s toxins and reduce burden of the liver. Green and yellow juices also help to protect our body from free radical build up, normalizing the liver function.
5. Quit smoking
Cigarettes contain toxic cadmium causing high blood pressure, increases the risk of calcium clotting up the arterial wall and reduces the amount of antioxidants in the body in result of weakening the immune system and liver causing the liver to be easier to be infected by hepatitis virus.
6. Limit intake of sugar
High amount of sugar promotes liver inflammation and free radical damage.
7. Do not overdose your medication
Overdosing medications is toxic to the body causing extra burden for liver function.
8. Do not share things with others such as clippers, scissors, toothbrushes or anything that may have come into contact with blood or body fluids.
9. Casual sexual activity must be taken with extra care.
IV. Other Treatment
1. Liver Detoxification
Strengthens the immune system with vitamins, nutritional supplements and herbs that we have been discussed lengthily in other articles.
2. Ozone therapy
Ozone oxidizes the cells of the body systemically. It stimulates enzymes and phagocytes of the white blood cells which chew up the viruses and the bacteria in the blood. It also activates alpha interferon, gamma interferon, interleukin II and tumor necrosis factor. It is effective in treating hepatitis B patients with high successful rate.
3. Lamivudine therapy
Combining vaccine therapy with lamivudine has improved therapeutic potential for chronic hepatitis B. It helps to strengthen the immune system fighting against the hepatitis B virus specially with patients with chronic HBV infection and active viral replication.
4. Interferon-alpha therapy
Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a serious health problem because of its worldwide distribution. There are over 350 million people in the world infected with chronic HBV, 75% of whom live in the Asia-Pacific region. Interferon-alfa and direct antiviral agents such as lamivudine and adefovir are effective in the therapy of chronic HBV infection but only with some success, particularly in perinatally infected patients, patients with lower ALT levels and those with negative chronic hepatitis B.
5. Pegylated interferon
Pegylated interferon may be considered the best choice of treatment for patients with chronic hepatitis B infection. This therapy has been shown to be superior to both conventional interferon as well as lamivudine in the treatment of both hepatitis B positive and negative chronic hepatitis B with successful rates of 35-45%.
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Kyle J. Norton
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