Hepatitis is a potentially dangerous liver inflammation that is well-known because many people get it at some time in their lives. Most people develop hepatitis from a viral infection, but certain medications, toxins, or alcohol can also trigger it. It is common for viral hepatitis to resolve on its own, though this is not always the case, and the infection can also progress. Doctors divide the illness into five types, indicated by letters, but A, B, and C are the most common varieties.
People with hepatitis often do not present with any obvious symptoms. When they do, stomach pain is the most commonly recorded complaint. Individuals may also experience a significant loss of appetite, general sickness, and itchy skin. Jaundice, a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes, may also develop.
Quite a few of the more common symptoms of hepatitis resemble the signs of influenza; a high temperature is one example. Joint pain may also accompany the fever. Co-occurring symptoms can mislead individuals into assuming they have contracted the flu. If these symptoms persist, the doctor may recommend blood tests that can differentiate between hepatitis and another, less serious health concern.
Persistent diarrhea is another symptom hepatitis shares with many other conditions. Diarrhea may develop in part because removing waste and toxins is one way the body works to eradicate a virus or other infection. Because hepatitis is only one of many causes of diarrhea, doctors may need to run multiple tests and take a full patient history to identify the problem.
Jaundice or a yellowing of the skin and eyes happens to approximately a fifth of people with hepatitis. Newborn babies may have jaundice during their first few weeks of life, but this is usually a minor medical issue. In adults, jaundice can indicate more severe problems, including liver cirrhosis or scaring. Cirrhosis develops when hepatitis is not adequately treated or when treatment is delayed until the condition has advanced.
The development of indigestion is unlikely to prompt thoughts or a diagnosis of hepatitis on its own. If an individual knows poor dietary habits is not the cause of their gastrointestinal issues, seeing a doctor to determine the underlying problem is recommended. Illnesses related to the liver can often lead to indigestion and other related discomforts, and hepatitis is no exception. Though another cause is more likely, experiencing indigestion in combination with other symptoms of hepatitis, especially jaundice, should prompt an individual to seek medical attention.
One common symptom of hepatitis is itchy skin. Usually assumed to be the result of an allergy or other irritation, most people will ignore this symptom until it becomes unbearable. As with jaundice, itching develops in people with this infection because of the toxins building up in the bloodstream. These toxins would be filtered out through the liver in healthy individuals, but hepatitis' impact on the organ makes this function less efficient. Itchiness and skin dryness can also be a side effect of certain anti-hepatitis drugs.
Many illnesses can manifest psychological as well as physical symptoms. Almost a third of individuals with hepatitis C have clinical depression. In this case, the symptom can also be a risk factor for the infection. The social implications of the physical limitations of an illness can cause depression in individuals with hepatitis. Additionally, the negative stigma and misunderstanding that surrounds the condition can result in negative feelings, leading to depression and other, related mental health issues.
The bodies of people with hepatitis are constantly working to fight off an infection that is taking over organs and related systems. The excess energy required to wage this war can lead to extreme fatigue. Research findings primarily associate this symptom with the viral hepatitis C. A person experiencing lasting fatigue that is not alleviated by sleep should see a doctor, as there are many possible causes of this issue.
People living with hepatitis can begin to have difficulty with memory and general cognition. Some scientific theories suggest this symptom develops due to the infection's effect on the central nervous system. One theory posits that the virus can infect cells capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier, thereby migrating the infection
to the brain.
Research connects low appetite with many conditions, including the five types of hepatitis. Sometimes people who develop hepatitis C lose interest in eating. Usually, this change takes several weeks from the initial infection to develop or become evident. Lack of hunger leads to reduced food consumption, which can cause and exacerbate many other symptoms.
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