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UNDERSTANDING HEPATITIS- TYPES, CAUSES, AND THE USE OF HEPATITIS PANEL

Meaning of hepatitis and hepatitis panel

Do you understand Hepatitis- its types ,causes and the use of hepatitis panel. It is a medical condition that describes the inflammation of the liver.

It is caused predominantly by viral infections but can also occur due to excessive consumption of drugs and alcohol, genetic disorders, and an overactive immune system.

HEPATITIS
Technician preparing human Hepatitis sample for screening in the lab.

Currently, hepatitis affects over 300 million people globally, and the condition may lead to liver scarring, cancer, organ failure, or death.

On the other hand, a hepatitis panel is a simple blood test that medical professionals use to diagnose whether a patient is/has been infected with any of the hepatitis strains.

There are five strains of the hepatitis virus-

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • Hepatitis D
  • Hepatitis E

Of importance is that while the symptoms of all five strains are similar, the viruses causing each are different. They also differ in transmission routes, prevention methods, and the severity of damage they can cause to the liver.

Below is a table for the different strains of hepatitis and their common routes of transmission.

Hepatitis TypeVirusCommon routes of transmission
Hepatitis A  HAVExposure to HAV in food or water.
Hepatitis B  HBVExposure to HBV in body fluids, such as blood, vaginal secretions, or semen.
Hepatitis CHCVExposure to HCV in body fluids, such as blood, vaginal secretions, or semen.
Hepatitis DHDVExposure to blood containing HDV.
Hepatitis EHEVExposure to HEV in food or water.

Symptoms of hepatitis

Common symptoms of hepatitis that could indicate a need for a hepatitis panel are-

•        Malaise.

•        Abdominal tenderness, especially in the upper right abdomen corner.

•        Abdominal pain.

•        Abdominal swelling due to fluid retention.

•        Cloudy or dark-coloured urine.

•        Lightly coloured stools.

•        Unexplainable fatigue.

•        Nausea (with or without vomiting).

•        Jaundice.

•        Joint pain.

•        Loss of appetite.

Hepatitis Vaccination

Vaccination exists only for Hepatitis A and B, and you can get your vaccine shots at many nearby hospitals.

HEPATITIS

While the Hepatitis B vaccine is administered from birth and is usually 2, 3, or 4 shots, the hepatitis A vaccine is administered to infants at least 12 months of age.

Diagnosis

To diagnose hepatitis, your healthcare provider will:

•        Undertake a physical exam by pressing against your abdomen to detect pain or a swollen and enlarged liver.

•        Conduct blood tests to check elevated liver enzymes and ascertain any damage or infection.

•        Conduct an ultrasound of the liver to detect any changes in size or shape.

•        Carry out a liver biopsy to confirm suspected inflammation to investigate further and determine the exact degree of liver damage.

Treatment

Treatment options vary on the type of hepatitis you have, the cause, and whether the infection is acute or chronic.

Thus, while some prognosis may require antiviral medications, others may need rest, avoiding alcohol, or a transplant.

Note that although treatment exists for all hepatitis, only hepatitis A and C have a cure.

When to seek help

Contact us on 016291000 or 016290998 immediately, if you’ve been exposed to hepatitis or think you are showing any hepatitis symptoms. You should also book a hepatitis panel test when showing symptoms or for preventive health care.

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