Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, most commonly caused by a viral infection. There are five main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E, but it can also be caused due to toxins (notably alcohol, certain medications, some industrial organic solvents and plants), other infections and autoimmune diseases.
Hepatitis is acute when it lasts less than six months and chronic when it persists longer. Some types of hepatitis will pass without causing permanent damage to the liver. Other types can persist for many years and cause scarring of the liver (cirrhosis) and, in the most serious cases, loss of liver function (liver failure), which can be fatal. In particular, types B and C lead to chronic disease in hundreds of millions of people and, together, are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer.
Hepatitis A and E are typically caused by ingestion of contaminated food or water. Hepatitis B, C and D usually occur as a result of parenteral contact with infected body fluids. Common modes of transmission for these viruses include receipt of contaminated blood or blood products, invasive medical procedures using contaminated equipment and for hepatitis B transmission from mother to baby at birth, from family member to child, and also by sexual contact.
Acute infection may occur with limited or no symptoms, or may include symptoms such as jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), dark urine, malaise or extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting, anorexia and abdominal pain.
Signs and symptoms
There are five main types of hepatitis that are caused by a virus, A, B, C, D, and E.
The clinical presentation of infectious hepatitis varies with the individual, as well as with the specific causative virus. Some patients may be entirely asymptomatic or only mildly symptomatic at presentation. Others may present with rapid onset of fulminant hepatic failure (FHF). The classic presentation of infectious hepatitis involves 4 phases, as follows:
- Phase 1 (viral replication phase) – Patients are asymptomatic during this phase; laboratory studies demonstrate serologic and enzyme markers of hepatitis
- Phase 2 (prodromal phase) – Patients experience anorexia, nausea, vomiting, alterations in taste, arthralgias, malaise, fatigue, urticaria, and pruritus, and some develop an aversion to cigarette smoke; when seen by a health care provider during this phase, patients are often diagnosed as having gastroenteritis or a viral syndrome
- Phase 3 (icteric phase) – Patients may note dark urine, followed by pale-colored stools; in addition to the predominant gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms and malaise, patients become icteric and may develop right upper quadrant pain with hepatomegaly
- Phase 4 (convalescent phase) – Symptoms and icterus resolve, and liver enzymes return to normal
Hepatitis can be caused by:
- Immune cells in the body attacking the liver and causing autoimmune hepatitis
- Infections from viruses (such as hepatitis A, B, or C), bacteria, or parasites
- Liver damage from alcohol, poisonous mushrooms, or other poisons
- Medications, such as an overdose of acetaminophen, which can be deadly
- Liver disease can also be caused by inherited disorders such as cystic fibrosis or hemochromatosis, a condition that involves having too much iron in your body (the excess iron deposits in the liver).
- Other causes include Wilson’s disease.
There are several laboratory tests that may be used in cases of known or suspected hepatitis, including:
- Abdominal ultrasound
- Autoimmune blood markers
- Hepatitis virus serologies
- Liver function tests
- Liver biopsy to check for liver damage
- Paracentesis (if fluid is in your abdomen)
- Detection of immunoglobulin M (IgM) for hepatitis A virus (HAV) is the standard for diagnosing acute infection with HAV.
- Detection of IgM for hepatitis B core antigen (HBcAg) in serum is required to make the diagnosis of acute hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) may be present in acute infection or in patients who are chronic carriers. Its presence in patients with symptoms of acute hepatitis strongly suggests acute HBV infection but does not rule out chronic HBV with acute superinfection by another hepatitis virus. The presence of HBsAg in the serum for 6 months or longer indicates chronic infection.
- Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection can be confirmed with serologic assays to detect antibody to HCV (anti-HCV) or with molecular tests for the presence of viral particles. Third-generation assays for anti-HCV are sensitive and specific and can detect such antibodies within 4-10 weeks of infection. A rapid antibody test strip has now been approved. Qualitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay for presence of viral particles is the most specific test of HCV infection and may be helpful in diagnosing acute HCV infection before antibodies have developed.
- Assays to detect IgM antibody to hepatitis D virus (HDV) do not need to be routinely performed in all patients with suspected hepatitis.
In general, complications of viral hepatitis may include the following:
- Acute or subacute hepatic necrosis
- Chronic active hepatitis
- Chronic hepatitis
- Hepatic failure
- Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in patients with HBV or HCV infection
In Ayurveda, the liver is called Yakrit. Pitta is the predominant humor of the liver. Most liver disorders are aggravated conditions of Pitta. Excessive bile production or a blockage in the flow of bile usually indicates high pitta, which in turn affects the agni or enzyme activities responsible for absorption, digestion and metabolism.
Aggravation of the Pitta causes the liver diseases such as hepatitis, cirrhosis and fatty liver. Kaamala is the term mentioned in Ayurveda to describe the wide range of liver diseases including Hepatitis.
Ayurveda describes various types of kaamala (hepatitis or jaundice) based on the stage or depth of the symptoms. They are:
- Shakhasrita – is caused by the aggravation of all the doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha), and is a kind of obstructive jaundice.
- Koshta shakhsrita – results from very high pitta derangement and considered as severe jaundice or hepatitis, difficult to cure.
- Kumbha kamala – is a neglected or untreated stage of jaundice or hepatitis. It can become incurable if not attended immediately. It can be compared with Cirrhosis of liver.
- Haleemaka – is an advanced or neglected stage of Paandu roga that occurs when both the vata and pitta are out of balance.
At CHARAKA, we are providing highly effective treatment for various type or Hepatitis including hepatitis B & hepatitis C. Our treatment is useful in controlling the infection & replication of the virus, preventing further damage to liver. Hepatitis B patients show better response than Hepatitis C.
Our treatment involves Shodana chikitsa (detoxification through Panchakarma procedures), Shamana chikitsa (Palliative researched Ayurvedic medicines) and Kayakalpa (rejuvenation).
Diet restrictions, life style modifications and de-addiction are also the essential factors practiced for the best possible results.