Viral hepatitis A, B, and C cause infectious diseases in the liver, which can cause acute or chronic disease of this organ.
What are the differences between the mentioned hepatitises, what are the symptoms, and, finally, how is the treatment, and what is the prognosis?
How are hepatitis A, B, and C different?
There are approximately 400 million people in the world who have been diagnosed with one form of hepatitis.
About 1.4 million people die from this disease annually, and what is most surprising is the fact that experts estimate that as many as 95% of people who have hepatitis do not know about this disease.
Left untreated, hepatitis, in one form or another, can cause permanent liver damage. We must be aware that patients with hepatitis usually have mild or no symptoms at all.
What is hepatitis?
- Hepatitis is a liver disease characterized by inflammation. Hepatitis can occur without symptoms.
- Symptoms that may appear are yellow skin, white blood cells, fatigue, and decreased appetite. Hepatitis can be acute or chronic.
- Inflammation of the liver caused by hepatitis viruses is one of the most dangerous infectious diseases in the world.
- Viral hepatitis often causes severe and sometimes life-threatening acute or chronic diseases.
- Hepatitis is a very insidious disease that can be transmitted to another person completely unnoticed.
Hepatitis can be acute or chronic
Acute hepatitis can sometimes go away on its own, sometimes it can turn into chronic hepatitis, or rarely it can cause acute liver failure.
Chronic hepatitis may have symptoms or may have mild symptoms and progress over time to cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), fibrosis (formation of extra-fibrous connective tissue), and chronic liver failure.
Viruses that cause liver disease:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
Viral hepatitis A is a viral inflammation of the liver. It can take place without obvious signs on the gastrointestinal tract.
The disease occurs in the liver. The main symptom is jaundice, which can be seen on the skin.
The causative agent is transmitted through food, water, or dirty hands, the National Institute for Public Health emphasizes.
Hepatitis A is most often transmitted from contaminated food, water, or a person who is already infected. It is also called “contagious jaundice”.
Mild cases do not require treatment, and most infected people make a full recovery without permanent liver damage.
This type of hepatitis is also called the disease of dirty hands because good prevention of hand washing and hand hygiene itself is one of the best ways to protect against hepatitis A.
There is also a vaccine for this type of hepatitis that is recommended for people traveling to countries with low hygiene standards.
In most cases, non-specific problems because of inflammation of the liver appear first: fatigue, malaise, and pain under the right rib cage.
The skin turns yellow (jaundice); the stool becomes light, and the urine becomes dark. Symptoms are milder in children and more severe in the elderly.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) causes inflammation of the liver. The infection is most often transmitted through exposure to infected blood and sexual relations with an infected person, but it can also be transmitted from an infected mother to a newborn.
We can protect ourselves from infection by vaccination. In a few people, hepatitis B infection becomes chronic, which can lead to liver failure, liver cancer, or cirrhosis.
These are conditions that cause permanent scarring of the liver. Hepatitis B is spread through body fluids, mostly blood.
Most people who become infected in adulthood make a full recovery, even if their signs and symptoms are severe. Babies and children are much more likely to develop chronic hepatitis B infection.
Most sufferers have no obvious symptoms during the acute phase, but symptoms can range from jaundice, dark urine, extreme fatigue, nausea, and vomiting to abdominal pain.
Although there is no cure for hepatitis B, symptomatic treatment options are available, and a vaccine can prevent the disease.
Vaccination is recommended for infants, people being treated for a sexually transmitted infection, healthcare workers and others who work in an environment where they come into contact with blood, people with end-stage renal disease, and people traveling to areas with high rates of hepatitis B.
It is estimated that 130 to 150 million people worldwide are infected with hepatitis C, and 350,000 to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease.
Most people infected with the hepatitis C virus have no symptoms, and most patients may not be aware of their hepatitis C infection for up to a decade after liver damage has already occurred.
HCV is a virus that causes inflammation of the liver. Signs of acute viral hepatitis appear in 20% of those infected, while the rest have no typical symptoms despite the infection.
The infection most often resolves spontaneously in infected children and those with a pronounced clinical picture (jaundice), but in those who do not have symptoms, the probability of spontaneous removal of the virus is significantly lower.
The presence of the viral genome six months after infection shows chronic infection.
Hepatitis C is one of the most serious forms of hepatitis. It is transmitted through contaminated blood, most commonly through needles shared during illegal drug use.
The infection is treated with antiviral drugs designed to remove the virus from the body. Although there is no cure for hepatitis B, symptomatic treatment options are available, and a vaccine can prevent the disease.
Acute HCV infection occurs without clinical signs in 80% of those infected. When they occur, the main symptoms of acute inflammation are fatigue, nausea, pain under the right rib cage, dark urine, loss of appetite, and jaundice.
The liver is often enlarged. Acute liver failure is rare. In about 80% of infected people, the disease turns into a chronic form. Liver cirrhosis develops in 20 to 30% of these patients 20 to 30 years after infection, and a smaller proportion of patients may develop liver carcinoma.
Hepatitis A, B, and C are all types of hepatitis. They all result from the hepatitis A, B, or C virus. The main difference between them is how severe the symptoms will be.
For example, hepatitis A usually causes just mild stomach pain and diarrhea, while hepatitis B can lead to jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), fever, and fatigue. Hepatitis C can cause liver cancer, cirrhosis (liver scarring), and death.