Hepatitis - What Is It?

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Hepatitis - What Is It?
Hepatitis - What Is It?

Video: Hepatitis - What Is It?

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Video: What is hepatitis? 2023, January

Hepatitis: what is it?

Hepatitis is the medical term for inflammation of the liver. This is a defense reaction of the body's own immune system, among other things, against infectious agents or substances toxic to the liver. Disturbances of the blood flow in the liver or autoimmune diseases in which the immune system is directed against liver cells or cells of the bile ducts can also be causes. The most common are alcoholic hepatitis, virus-related hepatitis diseases (hepatitis AE) and non-alcoholic fatty liver hepatitis (NASH).

The hepatitis diseases can be classified according to the cause. A distinction is also made between an acute and chronic course. Knowledge of the transmission route is of particular importance for the prevention of infectious liver inflammation.


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  • What are the causes of hepatitis?
  • What types of hepatitis are there?
  • Which hepatitis viruses are there?
  • How are the hepatitis viruses transmitted?

What are the causes of hepatitis?

The hepatitis diseases can be classified according to the cause:

  • Viral hepatitis

    • Hepatitis A, B, C, D, E
    • including hepatitis with Epstein-Barr virus infection, cytomegalovirus infection
  • toxic hepatitis

    • alimentary hepatitis (caused by excessive alcohol consumption).
    • non-alcoholic fatty liver hepatitis, e.g. if you are overweight, if you have diabetes
  • Bacterial, fungal and parasite infections with inflammatory liver involvement (e.g. echinococcosis (tapeworm), schistosomiasis, toxoplasmosis)
  • drug-related hepatitis (drug-toxic)
  • toxic hepatitis due to physical causes (e.g. radiation)
  • Autoimmune hepatitis (the own immune system attacks the liver cells, causing liver inflammation)
  • Primary biliary cholangitis (autoimmune disease of the liver, whereby the immune system attacks the small bile ducts (biliary) in the liver. In an advanced stage, the inflammation is transferred to the liver cells)
  • primary sclerosing cholangitis (chronic inflammation of the biliary tract inside and / or outside the liver. The exact cause is unknown, often occurs in association with inflammatory bowel disease)
  • congenital causes of inflammatory liver damage

    • Hemochromatosis (iron storage disease)
    • Wilson's disease (copper storage disease)
    • Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (deficiency of a certain protein)
  • inflammatory liver damage in the case of gluten intolerance (celiac disease)
  • Hepatitis in the case of inflammation of the biliary tract due to a mechanical obstacle to drainage in the biliary tract
  • extrahepatic causes (outside the liver):

    • State of shock - a shock can lead to liver failure
    • Blood poisoning (sepsis)
    • Congestive hepatitis (impaired blood flow in the liver due to heart failure)

What types of hepatitis are there?

The classification of hepatitis disease can be based on the course:

  • acute: duration of illness shorter than six months.
  • chronic: duration of illness longer than six months; The most common cause of chronic hepatitis is fatty liver due to excessive alcohol consumption, followed by chronic viral hepatitis B or C and overeating or malnutrition.

Which hepatitis viruses are there?

Hepatitis viruses A. B. C. D. E.
incubation period 2-6 weeks 4–26 weeks 1-24 weeks 3–7 weeks for acute HBV / HDV co-infection; no reliable information possible in the case of a superinfection 2-10 weeks

How are the hepatitis viruses transmitted?

transmission Hepatitis A Hepatitis B. Hepatitis C. Hepatitis D Hepatitis E.
fecal / oral (via stool or mouth)

Yes No No No Yes
about blood very rare Yes Yes Yes very rare
sexually Rare Yes Rare Yes Rare
Mother → child very rare Yes very rare;

HIV co-infected mothers are at higher risk

yes, in endemic areas (areas with many sick people)

Vaccination possible Yes Yes No yes (HBV) No
Laboratory evidence Anti-HAV IgM, anti-HAV IgG HBsAg, HBe-Ag, HBV-DNA, Anti-HBc-IgM, Anti-HBs, Anti-HBc, Anti-HBe Anti-HCV, HCV RNA Anti-HDV, HDV-RNA Anti-HEV, HEV RNA

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