What is chronic hepatitis ?
Chronic hepatitis is ongoing inflammation of the liver caused by a hepatitis virus (hepatitis B or C), alcohol, fatty liver disease or uncommon conditions such as autoimmune liver disease. Chronic hepatitis lasts several years.
What are the symptoms of chronic hepatitis ?
Patients with chronic hepatitis may have no or very few symptoms. Chronic hepatitis is usually detected incidentally when blood tests for the liver are abnormal or when patients are incidentally detected to have hepatitis B or hepatitis C. Patients may have non-specific symptoms such as tiredness, nausea, poor appetite, and discomfort in the right upper abdomen. Some patients may have repeated episodes of jaundice.
Is chronic hepatitis a progressive disease ?
Chronic hepatitis is a progressive disease if the underlying cause is not treated. Untreated, chronic hepatitis may lead to cirrhosis and liver failure.
How is chronic hepatitis diagnosed ?
Blood tests will help determine the cause and severity of the hepatitis. Further information may be obtained from ultrasound and other types of liver scans. A liver biopsy may be required to assess the exact stage of disease.
How is chronic hepatitis treated ?
The treatment of chronic hepatitis depends on the underlying cause. Patients should stop alcohol consumption completely. Specific treatments are available for hepatitis B and C. Autoimmune liver disease can also be treated effectively with medications.
What are the danger signs in chronic hepatitis ?
Development of jaundice or signs of liver failure such as swelling of feet or belly, mental confusion, or bleeding are danger signs. These may signify that the patient has developed advanced liver disease and cirrhosis. These patients are at high risk of complications including death.
Are herbal or Ayurvedic medicines useful in treating chronic hepatitis ?
There is no scientific evidence that any form of Herbal or Ayurvedic medications are effective in treating liver disease. It is absolutely dangerous to use these medicines as some of them may contain undisclosed chemicals and heavy metals that may be toxic to the body.
What can be done at home ?
- If alcohol is the cause, you must stop drinking completely and see your doctor.
- Eat a well-balanced diet. There is no restriction on dietary items.
- There are no restrictions on your daily work, exercise and activities.
- If you have hepatitis B or hepatitis C, you must start treatment. You cannot donate blood.
- People with hepatitis B must inform their family and sexual partners about it. Sexual and other close contacts should get hepatitis B vaccine.
- People with hepatitis C must inform their family and sexual partners about it. The risk of sexual transmission of hepatitis C is mush lower than hepatitis B. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C.