Viral Hepatitis

Overview

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. The condition can be self-limiting or can progress to fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis or liver cancer.

Hepatitis Viruses are the most common cause of hepatitis in the world but other infections, toxic substances (e.g. alcohol, certain drugs), and autoimmune diseases can also cause hepatitis. There are 5 main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. The 3 most common causes of hepatitis are hepatitis A, B and C.

Viral hepatitis usually has no any symptom during the early stages of the period of incubation for at least 10 years. Chronic infections over many years can seriously damage the liver and leads to liver cirrhosis and complications such as liver cancer.

What Are The Common Types of Viral Hepatitis?

Hepatitis A is the inflammation of the liver caused by a virus known as Hepatitis A Virus (HAV). An estimated 1.5 million people worldwide are infected with HAV.
The virus is usually found in the stool (faeces) of an infected person. It is transmitted when a person puts something that has been contaminated by the stool of an infected person into his/her mouth. This mode of transmission is known as the faecal-oral route.

Hepatitis B is the inflammation of the liver caused by a virus known as Hepatitis B Virus (HBV). It is the world’s most common liver disorder, especially among the Asian population, and it is the leading cause of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. More than 450 million people worldwide are infected with chronic HBV.

Hepatitis C is a virus that causes inflammation of the liver. It can lead to chronic hepatitis as well as increase your risk of liver failure, cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and liver cancer. A person who has Hepatitis C can still get other types of viral infections, such as Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. There is no vaccination for Hepatitis C, but it is potentially curable.

Hepatitis D is a liver disease in both acute and chronic forms caused by the hepatitis D virus that requires hepatitis B for its replication. Hepatitis D infection cannot occur in the absence of hepatitis B virus. The coinfection or superinfection of hepatitis D with hepatitis B causes a more severe disease than HBV mono-infection.A vaccine against hepatitis B is the only method to prevent hepatitis D infection.

Hepatitis E virus is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis E virus: a small virus with a positive-sense, single-stranded ribonucleic acid (RNA) genome. The virus has at least 4 different types: genotypes 1, 2, 3 and 4. Genotypes 1 and 2 have been found only in humans. Genotype 3 and 4 viruses circulate in several animals without causing any disease, and occasionally infect humans.

 

Got a question about viral hepatitis? Find the FAQ’s answer HERE!.

progression-liver
Liver Disease Progression

 

Do you know how viral hepatitis can lead to liver cancer? Dr Tan Kai Chah shares his insights into this topic through below video: