What is acute hepatitis?
If you have heard of acute hepatitis, it is an inflammatory condition in the liver. In general, hepatitis is divided into two groups, namely acute and chronic, based on the length of inflammation and the consequences caused by liver disorders.
When long inflammation or injury to the liver lasts less than six months, the condition is called acute hepatitis. Conversely, when inflammation or injury lasts more than six months, the condition is called chronic hepatitis.
Acute hepatitis is quite common, affecting more men than women. This condition can occur in patients of any age and can be treated by reducing risk factors. Here’s the review.
What causes acute hepatitis?
Acute hepatitis can be caused by several things, but generally hepatitis occurs due to infection from the virus. The following are the various causes of acute hepatitis that need to be known:
As mentioned above, acute hepatitis is generally caused by a viral infection. The virus that causes this condition is divided into five, namely hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E viruses.
The five types of hepatitis above can cause acute hepatitis. Acute hepatitis A and E can be cured completely in less than 6 months. Meanwhile, hepatitis B, C, and D usually develop into chronic hepatitis, and can even cause complications.
Consumption of alco**holic beverages
In addition to being caused by a virus, hepatitis can also occur due to damage to liver tissue due to alco**hol addiction. This condition is called alcoholic hepatitis, and is usually characterized by nausea, unwellness, and a low-grade fever.
Inflammation of the liver due to consuming too much alcoholic beverages can develop into cirrhosis if the patient continues to consume alco**hol. Therefore, people with alcoholic hepatitis must immediately stop these bad habits.
Consumption of drugs
Consumption of certain drugs in excessive doses can also cause the liver to experience inflammation. Examples of drugs include paracetamol, aspirin, sulfa class drugs, and herbal medicines.
Although rare, hepatitis due to the consumption of drugs should not be underestimated because it can lead to liver failure.
Hepatitis caused by fatty liver is called non alcoholic steatosis hepatitis. The buildup of fat in the liver due to excess weight can cause inflammation, so the liver cannot function optimally. This condition is usually asymptomatic and can improve with weight loss.
In addition to the above causes, a small percentage of acute hepatitis can also occur due to the body’s immune system attacking and damaging the body’s own cells and tissues. This condition is called autoimmune hepatitis.
There are many risk factors for acute hepatitis, namely:
- Exposure to blood or body fluids (such as the use of drugs by injection, high-risk se**xual inter**course, tattooing, body piercing, blood transfusion, occupational).
- Transmission through blood transfusion is now rarely encountered with more rigorous examination.
- Contact with an infected person.
- Poor hygiene and sanitation.
- Liver disease. Patients with liver disease (such as autoimmune hepatitis, hemochromatosis, Wilson’s disease, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency) are at risk for symptomatic hepatitis.
Symptoms of acute hepatitis
Symptoms and signs of acute hepatitis appear very quickly, including:
- Decreased appetite
- Discomfort in the stomach (pain in the liver)
- Cloudy urine and jaundice
- Symptoms that resemble the flu
- Pale-colored stools
- Weight loss for no reason.
There may be a low fever and a rash that does not persist during the incubation period. Hives are usually not found at the beginning of the condition, but can appear if jaundice continues.
When to go to the doctor?
Call your doctor right away if you have signs or symptoms of acute hepatitis, especially hepatitis A. Your doctor may recommend a hepatitis vaccine or an injection of immunoglobulins (antibodies) within two weeks of being exposed to hepatitis A to protect against infection.
You should consult your doctor about the importance of the hepatitis A vaccine if:
- Have recently traveled abroad, especially to areas with poor sanitation.
- Eat in a restaurant, a place where there is an outbreak of hepatitis.
- Have had close contact with a person infected with hepatitis.
- Have recently had se**xual contact with a person who has hepatitis.
To be able to make a diagnosis of acute hepatitis, the doctor will do anamnesis or dig up the medical history, risk factors, and symptoms of hep that you have. Then, the doctor will perform a physical examination of the abdominal area to look for pain, need, or enlargement of the liver. Next, the doctor will likely perform some of the following actions:
Evaluating the skin and eyes
Skin and eye evaluation is done to determine if there is a change in color or not. Those affected by hepatitis will generally experience changes in eye color and skin to yellow or jaundice.
Evaluating liver performance
The doctor will also likely evaluate the performance of the liver by conducting laboratory tests of liver enzymes or transaminases (SGOT / SGPT). If there is an increase in liver enzymes, this condition indicates impaired function or damage to the liver.
Other laboratory tests
Several other laboratory tests may be done to determine the exact cause of acute hepatitis. Such tests can be hepatitis virus detection tests, antibody tests to detect autoimmune conditions, and tests for certain drug levels.
Imaging methods such as abdominal ultrasound can be done to evaluate the structure of the liver and its surroundings. This test can detect enlarged liver organs, fluid in the abdominal cavity, liver tumors, or abnormalities in the gallbladder.
Although rare, liver biopsy or liver tissue sampling may also be performed. This step aims to find out the cause of acute hepatitis.
Prevention of Acute Hepatitis
Acute hepatitis is a disease that can be prevented by making lifestyle changes, including:
1. Keeping Clean
One of the main ways to avoid contracting hepatitis is to practice proper hygiene. This includes if traveling to a developing country avoids drinking local water, eating ice, raw or undercooked shellfish and oysters, and raw fruit and vegetables.
Hepatitis that is transmitted through blood contaminated with the hepatitis virus can be prevented in the following ways:
- Do not share needles or use used needles.
- Don’t share razors.
- Don’t use someone else’s toothbrush.
- Do not touch spilled or splattered blood.
Given that hepatitis can be transmitted through se**xual inter**course, it is best to practice safe se**x using con**doms to help reduce the risk of infection.
Getting the vaccine is an important step to prevent hepatitis. Vaccines are available to prevent the development of hepatitis A and B. Vaccines are available against hepatitis C is being developed.