Liver Knowledge Base: Hepatitis in General
Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver.
The disease can be caused by:
- Infections from viruses (such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C) or parasites, bacteria;
- Excess accumulation of fat (triglycerides) in liver cells - NonAlcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) - caused by obesity and abnormal lipid metabolism, may result in steatohepatitis;
- Liver damage from alcohol, drugs, or poisonous mushrooms;
- Immune cells in the body may attack the liver and cause autoimmune hepatitis;
- Some inherited genetic liver disorders result in hepatitis;
- An overdose of acetaminophen, which is rare but mortal. Besides acetaminophen (other names: tylenol, paracetamol) some other medications can cause damage and inflammation of the liver.
Hepatitis may start and resolve quickly (acute hepatitis), or cause long-term disease for decades (chronic hepatitis). In some instances, progressive liver damage, liver failure,
or even liver cancer may (hepatocellular carcinoma) result.
The severity of hepatitis depends on many factors, including the cause of the liver damage and any underlying illnesses you have. Hepatitis A, for example, is generally transient, not leading to chronic liver problems.
The symptoms of hepatitis may include some or all of the following (depends on a stage of hepatitis):
- Dark urine and pale or clay-colored stools
- Abdominal pain or distention
- Loss of appetite
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
- Chronic fatigue
- Weight loss
- General itching
- Nausea and vomiting
- Low grade fever
- Breast development in males
- Early menopause
Many people with hepatitis B or C do not have symptoms when first infected and can still develop liver failure later (sometimes decades later).
Chronic hepatitis very often results in liver failure (cirrhosis) or liver cancer.