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Inflammation of liver, usually caused by a viral infection.
Persons most commonly affected: All age groups and both sexes.
Organ or part of body involved: Liver
Symptoms and indications: Acute and chronic hepatitis -- abdominal pain, loss of appetite, fatigue, jaundice, nausea, vomiting, itching, malaise and fever. Hepatitis A and Hepatitis E -- fever, sickness, malaise and jaundice. Serum hepatitis (viruses B, C and D) -- chills, fatigue, headaches and jaundice.
Causes and risk factors: The disease can result from the use of alcohol, drugs, and chemicals but is most commonly caused by one of several specific hepatitis viruses, but the most common are those that cause hepatitis A (infectious hepatitis) and hepatitis B (serum hepatitis). The hepatitis A virus and the hepatitis B virus both attack cells in the liver. Hepatitis A is transmitted from person to person via contaminated food or water or contact with the stool of an infected person. This disease may occur in epidemics where sanitation is poor and the water supply is contaminated. The incubation period (the time between exposure to the disease and the appearance of symptoms) is between 14 and 40 days. Sometimes hepatitis A is so mild that symptoms never appear, but the infected person can still be a carrier and can transmit the disease to others. In hepatitis B, the virus enters the bloodstream through contact with contaminated blood or other body fluids, such as semen, or with stool or through the use of contaminated hypodermic needles. Hepatitis B begins more gradually than does hepatitis A, so the disease may be present 40 to 180 days before the onset of symptoms. Because the virus can live in stool and almost all body fluids, including saliva, hepatitis B can be transmitted by sexual contact or, rarely, by casual contact. Recently, a hepatitis C virus has been characterised. The virus is presumed to be a major cause of what was previously known as 'non-A, non-B hepatitis.' Its incubation period is somewhere between that of A and B, and its mode of transmission is similar to B. Hepatitis that is not due to any of the above may also result as a complication of infectious mononucleosis.
Prevention: During the acute phase, it is recommended that you consume soups, broths, diluted vegetable juices, herbal teas, steamed vegetables, brown rice, and nonred meat protein sources, such as free-range turkey or chicken, legumes, and fish. To promote healing of the liver consume lots of vegetables and moderate amounts of fruits, whole grains, and legumes. Reduce or eliminate foods that are taxing to the liver, such as fried foods, refined sugar products, foods containing trans-fatty acids, such as margarine and vegetable shortening, and saturated fats, found in meat and dairy products. Make fresh juices out of foods such as apples, beets, and carrots. Eating smaller and more frequent meals in recommended. Soups and stews are good. Cut out junk food, sugar, and alcohol, all of which suppress your immune system and tax your entire body.