Hepatitis (plural hepatitides) implies injury to the liver characterized by the presence of inflammatory cells in the tissue of the organ. The name is from ancient Greek hepar (????) or hepato– (?????-), meaning liver, and suffix -itis, meaning “inflammation” (c. 1727). The condition can be self-limiting, healing on its own, or can progress to scarring of the liver. Hepatitis is acute when it lasts less than six months and chronic when it persists longer. A group of viruses known as the hepatitis viruses cause most cases of liver damage worldwide. Hepatitis can also be due to toxins (notably alcohol), other infections or from autoimmune process. It may run a subclinical course when the affected person may not feel ill. The patient becomes unwell and symptomatic when the disease impairs liver functions that include, among other things, removal of harmful substances, regulation of blood composition, and production of bile to help digestion.
Causes of Hepatitis
- Acute hepatitis
- Viral Hepatitis: Hepatitis A through E (more than 95% of viral cause), Herpes simplex, Cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr, yellow fever virus, adenoviruses.
- Non viral infection: toxoplasma, Leptospira, Q fever, rocky mountain spotted fever
- Toxins: Amanita toxin in mushrooms, carbon tetrachloride, asafetida
- Drugs: Paracetamol, amoxycillin, antituberculosis medicines, minocycline and many others (see longer list below).
- Ischemic hepatitis (circulatory insufficiency)
- Auto immune conditions, e.g. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
- Metabolic diseases, e.g. Wilson’s disease
- Chronic hepatitis
- Viral hepatitis: Hepatitis B with or without hepatitis D, hepatitis C (Hepatitis A and E do not lead to chronic disease)
- Autoimmune: Autoimmune hepatitis
- Drugs: methyldopa, nitrofurantoin, isoniazid, ketoconazole
- Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis
- Heredity: Wilson’s disease, alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency
- Primary biliary cirrhosis and primary sclerosing cholangitis occasionally mimic chronic hepatitis
Signs and symptoms of Hepatitis
Clinically, the course of acute hepatitis varies widely from mild symptoms requiring no treatment to fulminant hepatic failure needing liver transplantation. Acute viral hepatitis is more likely to be asymptomatic in younger people. Symptomatic individuals may present after convalescent stage of 7 to 10 days, with the total illness lasting 2 to 6 weeks.
Initial features are of nonspecific flu-like symptoms, common to almost all acute viral infections and may include malaise, muscle and joint aches, fever, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, and headache. More specific symptoms, which can be present in acute hepatitis from any cause, are: profound loss of appetite, aversion to smoking among smokers, dark urine, yellowing of the eyes and skin (i.e., jaundice) and abdominal discomfort. Physical findings are usually minimal, apart from jaundice (33%) and tender hepatomegaly (10%). There can be occasional lymphadenopathy (5%) or splenomegaly (5%).
Majority of patients will remain asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, abnormal blood tests being the only manifestation. Features may be related to the extent of liver damage or the cause of hepatitis. Many experience return of symptoms related to acute hepatitis. Jaundice can be a late feature and may indicate extensive damage. Other features include abdominal fullness from enlarged liver or spleen, low grade fever and fluid retention (ascites). Extensive damage and scarring of liver (i.e., cirrhosis) leads to weight loss, easy bruising and bleeding tendencies. Acne, abnormal menstruation, lung scarring, inflammation of the thyroid gland and kidneys may be present in women with autoimmune hepatitis.
Findings on clinical examination are usually those of cirrhosis or are related to aetiology.
Types of hepatitis
Infectious canine hepatitis is an acute liver infection in dogs caused by canine adenovirus type-1 (CAV-1). CAV-1 also causes disease in wolves, coyotes, and bears, and encephalitis in foxes. The virus is spread in the feces, urine, blood, saliva, and nasal discharge of infected dogs. It is contracted through the mouth or nose, where it replicates in the tonsils. The virus then infects the liver and kidneys. The incubation period is 4 to 7 days.
Symptoms include fever, depression, loss of appetite, coughing, and a tender abdomen. Corneal edema and signs of liver disease, such as jaundice, vomiting, and hepatic encephalopathy, may also occur. Severe cases will develop bleeding disorders, which can cause hematomas to form in the mouth. Death can occur secondary to this or the liver disease. However, most dogs recover after a brief illness, although chronic corneal edema and kidney lesions may persist.
Diagnosis is made by recognizing the combination of symptoms and abnormal blood tests that occur in infectious canine hepatitis. A rising antibody titer to CAV-1 is also seen. The disease can be confused with canine parvovirus because both will cause a low white blood cell count and bloody diarrhea in young, unvaccinated dogs.
Treatment is for the symptoms. Most dogs recover spontaneously without treatment. Prevention is through vaccination. Most combination vaccines for dogs contain a modified canine adenovirus type-2. CAV-2 is one of the causes of respiratory infections in dogs, but it is similar enough to CAV-1 that vaccine for one creates immunity for both. CAV-2 vaccine is much less likely to cause side effects than CAV-1 vaccine. One study has shown the vaccine to have a duration of immunity of at least four years.
CAV-1 is destroyed in the environment by steam cleaning and quaternary ammonium compounds. Otherwise, the virus can survive in the environment for months in the right conditions. It can also be released in the urine of a recovered dog for up to a year.
Most cases of acute hepatitis are due to viral infections:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- Hepatitis B with D
- Hepatitis E
- Hepatitis F virus (existence unknown)
- Hepatitis G, or GBV-C
- In addition to the hepatitis viruses (please note that the hepatitis viruses are not all related), other viruses can also cause hepatitis, including cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, yellow fever, etc.
Hepatitis A or infectious jaundice is caused by a picornavirus transmitted by the fecal-oral route, often associated with ingestion of contaminated food or with anal/oral sex. It causes an acute form of hepatitis and does not have a chronic stage. The patient’s immune system makes antibodies against hepatitis A that confer immunity against future infection. People with hepatitis A are advised to rest, stay hydrated and avoid alcohol. A vaccine is available that will prevent infection from hepatitis A for up to 10 years. Hepatitis A can be spread through personal contact, consumption of raw sea food or drinking contaminated water. This occurs primarily in third world countries. Strict personal hygiene and the avoidance of raw and unpeeled foods can help prevent an infection. Infected people excrete the hepatitis A virus with their feces two weeks before and one week after the appearance of jaundice. The time between the infection and the start of the illness averages 28 days (ranging from 15 to 50 days), and most recover fully within 2 months, although approximately 15% of sufferers may experience continuous or relapsing symptoms from six months to a year following initial diagnosis.
Hepatitis B is caused by a hepadnavirus, which can cause both acute and chronic hepatitis. Chronic hepatitis develops in the 15% of patients who are unable to eliminate the virus after an initial infection. Identified methods of transmission include blood (blood transfusion, now rare), tattoos (both amateur and professionally done), sexually (through sexual intercourse or through contact with blood or bodily fluids), or via mother to child by breast feeding (minimal evidence of transplacental crossing). However, in about half of cases the source of infection cannot be determined. Blood contact can occur by sharing syringes in intravenous drug use, shaving accessories such as razor blades, or touching wounds on infected persons. Needle-exchange programmes have been created in many countries as a form of prevention.
Patients with chronic hepatitis B have antibodies against hepatitis B, but these antibodies are not enough to clear the infection that establishes itself in the DNA of the affected liver cells. The continued production of virus combined with antibodies is a likely cause of the immune complex disease seen in these patients. A vaccine is available that will prevent infection from hepatitis B for life. Hepatitis B infections result in 500,000 to 1,200,000 deaths per year worldwide due to the complications of chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatitis B is endemic in a number of (mainly South-East Asian) countries, making cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma big killers. There are six FDA-approved treatment options available for persons with a chronic hepatitis B infection: alpha-interferon, pegylated interferon adefovir, entecavir, telbivudine and lamivudine. About 65% of persons on treatment achieve a sustained response.
Hepatitis B is the most infectious bloodborne pathogen known.
Hepatitis C (originally “non-A non-B hepatitis”) is caused by a virus with an RNA genome that is a member of the Flaviviridae family. It can be transmitted through contact with blood (including through sexual contact if the two parties’ blood is mixed) and can also cross the placenta. Hepatitis C may lead to a chronic form of hepatitis, culminating in cirrhosis. It can remain asymptomatic for 10-20 years. Patients with hepatitis C are susceptible to severe hepatitis if they contract either hepatitis A or B, so all hepatitis C patients should be immunized against hepatitis A and hepatitis B if they are not already immune, and avoid alcohol. The virus can cause cirrhosis of the liver. HCV viral levels can be reduced to undetectable levels by a combination of interferon and the antiviral drug ribavirin. The genotype of the virus determines the rate of response to this treatment regimen. Genotype 1 is more resistant to interferon therapy than other HCV genotypes.
Hepatitis D is caused by hepatitis delta agent, which is similar to a viroid as it can only propagate in the presence of the Hepatitis B virus.
Hepatitis E produces symptoms similar to hepatitis A, although it can take a fulminant course in some patients, particularly pregnant women; it is more prevalent in the Indian subcontinent.
Hepatitis F virus
Hepatitis F virus is a hypothetical virus linked to hepatitis. Several hepatitis F virus candidates emerged in the 1990s; none of these reports have been substantiated.
Hepatitis G, now called GB virus C
Another potential viral cause of hepatitis, initially identified as hepatitis G virus, is probably spread by blood and sexual contact. There is very little evidence that this virus causes hepatitis, as it does not appear to replicate primarily in the liver. It is now classified as GB virus C.
Other viral causes of hepatitis
Other viral infections can cause hepatitis (inflammation of the liver):
- Mumps virus
- Rubella virus
- Epstein-Barr virus
- Other herpes viruses
Ethanol, mostly in alcoholic beverages, is a significant cause of hepatitis. Usually alcoholic hepatitis comes after a period of increased alcohol consumption. Alcoholic hepatitis is characterized by a variable constellation of symptoms, which may include feeling unwell, enlargement of the liver, development of fluid in the abdomen ascites, and modest elevation of liver blood tests. Alcoholic hepatitis can vary from mild with only liver test elevation to severe liver inflammation with development of jaundice, prolonged prothrombin time, and liver failure. Severe cases are characterized by either obtundation (dulled consciousness) or the combination of elevated bilirubin levels and prolonged prothrombin time; the mortality rate in both categories is 50% within 30 days of onset.
Alcoholic hepatitis is distinct from cirrhosis caused by long term alcohol consumption. Alcoholic hepatitis can occur in patients with chronic alcoholic liver disease and alcoholic cirrhosis. Alcoholic hepatitis by itself does not lead to cirrhosis, but cirrhosis is more common in patients with long term alcohol consumption. Patients who drink alcohol to excess are also more often than others found to have hepatitis C. The combination of hepatitis C and alcohol consumption accelerates the development of cirrhosis.
Drug induced hepatitis
A large number of drugs can cause hepatitis:
- Amitriptyline (antidepressant)
- Amiodarone (antiarrhythmic)
- Atomoxetine 
- Halothane (a specific type of anesthetic gas)
- Hormonal contraceptives
- Ibuprofen and indomethacin (NSAIDs)
- Isoniazid (INH), rifampicin, and pyrazinamide (tuberculosis-specific antibiotics)
- Ketoconazole (antifungal)
- Loratadine (antihistamine)
- Methotrexate (immune suppressant)
- Methyldopa (antihypertensive)
- Minocycline (tetracycline antibiotic)
- Nifedipine (antihypertensive)
- Nitrofurantoin (antibiotic)
- Phenytoin and valproic acid (antiepileptics)
- Troglitazone (antidiabetic, withdrawn in 2000 for causing hepatitis)
- Zidovudine (antiretroviral i.e. against HIV)
- Some herbs and nutritional supplements
The clinical course of drug-induced hepatitis is quite variable, depending on the drug and the patient’s tendency to react to the drug. For example, halothane hepatitis can range from mild to fatal as can INH-induced hepatitis. Hormonal contraception can cause structural changes in the liver. Amiodarone hepatitis can be untreatable since the long half life of the drug (up to 60 days) means that there is no effective way to stop exposure to the drug. Statins can cause elevations of liver function blood tests normally without indicating an underlying hepatitis. Lastly, human variability is such that any drug can be a cause of hepatitis.
Other toxins that cause hepatitis
Toxins and drugs can cause hepatitis:
- Amatoxin-containing mushrooms, including the Death Cap (Amanita phalloides), the Destroying Angel (Amanita ocreata), and some species of Galerina. A portion of a single mushroom can be enough to be lethal (10 mg or less of ?-amanitin).
- White phosphorus, an industrial toxin and war chemical.
- Paracetamol (acetaminophen in the United States) can cause hepatitis when taken in an overdose. The severity of liver damage may be limited by prompt administration of acetylcysteine.
- Carbon tetrachloride (“tetra”, a dry cleaning agent), chloroform, and trichloroethylene, all chlorinated hydrocarbons, cause steatohepatitis (hepatitis with fatty liver).
- Cylindrospermopsin, a toxin from the cyanobacterium Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii and other cyanobacteria.
Some metabolic disorders cause different forms of hepatitis. Hemochromatosis (due to iron accumulation) and Wilson’s disease (copper accumulation) can cause liver inflammation and necrosis.
See below for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), effectively a consequence of metabolic syndrome.
“Obstructive jaundice” is the term used to describe jaundice due to obstruction of the bile duct (by gallstones or external obstruction by cancer). If longstanding, it leads to destruction and inflammation of liver tissue.
Anomalous presentation of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II on the surface of hepatocytes, possibly due to genetic predisposition or acute liver infection; causes a cell-mediated immune response against the body’s own liver, resulting in autoimmune hepatitis.
Alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency
In severe cases of alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency (A1AD), the accumulated protein in the endoplasmic reticulum causes liver cell damage and inflammation.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the occurrence of fatty liver in people who have no history of alcohol use. It is most commonly associated with obesity (80% of all obese people have fatty liver). It is more common in women. Severe NAFLD leads to inflammation, a state referred to as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which on biopsy of the liver resembles alcoholic hepatitis (with fat droplets and inflammatory cells, but usually no Mallory bodies).
The diagnosis depends on medical history, physical exam, blood tests, radiological imaging and sometimes a liver biopsy. The initial evaluation to identify the presence of fatty infiltration of the liver is medical imaging, including such ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), or magnetic resonance (MRI). However, imaging cannot readily identify inflammation in the liver. Therefore, the differentiation between steatosis and NASH often requires a liver biopsy. It can also be difficult to distinguish NASH from alcoholic hepatitis when the patient has a history of alcohol consumption. Sometimes in such cases a trial of abstinence from alcohol along with follow-up blood tests and a repeated liver biopsy are required.
NASH is becoming recognized as the most important cause of liver disease second only to hepatitis C in numbers of patients going on to cirrhosis.
Ischemic hepatitis is caused by decreased circulation to the liver cells. Usually this is due to decreased blood pressure (or shock), leading to the equivalent term “shock liver”. Patients with ischemic hepatitis are usually very ill due to the underlying cause of shock. Rarely, ischemic hepatitis can be caused by local problems with the blood vessels that supply oxygen to the liver (such as thrombosis, or clotting of the hepatic artery which partially supplies blood to liver cells). Blood testing of a person with ischemic hepatitis will show very high levels of transaminase enzymes (AST and ALT), which may exceed 1000 U/L. The elevation in these blood tests is usually transient (lasting 7 to 10 days). It is rare that liver function will be affected by ischemic hepatitis.
Homeopathy Treatment for Hepatitis
Keywords: homeopathy, homeopathic, treatment, cure, remedy, remedies, medicine
Homeopathy treats the person as a whole. It means that homeopathic treatment focuses on the patient as a person, as well as his pathological condition. The homeopathic medicines are selected after a full individualizing examination and case-analysis, which includes the medical history of the patient, physical and mental constitution, family history, presenting symptoms, underlying pathology, possible causative factors etc. A miasmatic tendency (predisposition/susceptibility) is also often taken into account for the treatment of chronic conditions. A homeopathy doctor tries to treat more than just the presenting symptoms. The focus is usually on what caused the disease condition? Why ‘this patient’ is sick ‘this way’. The disease diagnosis is important but in homeopathy, the cause of disease is not just probed to the level of bacteria and viruses. Other factors like mental, emotional and physical stress that could predispose a person to illness are also looked for. No a days, even modern medicine also considers a large number of diseases as psychosomatic. The correct homeopathy remedy tries to correct this disease predisposition. The focus is not on curing the disease but to cure the person who is sick, to restore the health. If a disease pathology is not very advanced, homeopathy remedies do give a hope for cure but even in incurable cases, the quality of life can be greatly improved with homeopathic medicines.
The homeopathic remedies (medicines) given below indicate the therapeutic affinity but this is not a complete and definite guide to the homeopathy treatment of this condition. The symptoms listed against each homeopathic remedy may not be directly related to this disease because in homeopathy general symptoms and constitutional indications are also taken into account for selecting a remedy. To study any of the following remedies in more detail, please visit the Materia Medica section at Hpathy.
None of these medicines should be taken without professional advice and guidance.
Homeopathy Remedies for Hepatitis :
Acon., act-sp., anag., anan., apis., ars., ars-i., aur., bapt., bell., bry., calc., camph., cham., carc., card-m., cean., chel., chin., cocc., corn., cupr., dol., hep., hippoz., hydr., ign., iod., kali-c., kali-i., kali-p., lach., lyc., mag-m., mang., merc., merc-d., nat-a., nat-c., nat-m., nat-s., nit-ac., nux-v., phos., phyt., podo., psor., ptel., puls., pyrog., sec., sil., staph., stel., sulph., tab., zing.
- ^ Online Etymology Dictionary 
- ^ Figure 7.12 (Some causes of acute parenchymal damage), Parveen, M.D. Kumar (Editor), Michael, M.d. Clark (Editor). Clinical Medicine: with STUDENT CONSULT Access. Philadelphia, PA: W.B. Saunders Company. ISBN 0-7020-2763-4.
- ^ Scott Moses, MD, Acute Hepatitis causes, Family practice notebook.com
- ^ a b V.G. Bain and M. Ma, Acute Viral Hepatitis, Chapter 14, First principle of gastroenterology (an online text book)
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- ^ “Chronic hepatitis”, Merck Manuals Online Medical Libraries. Retrieved on 2007-11-09.
- ^ “CDC Hepatitis A FAQ“. Retrieved on 2008-03-03.
- ^ “CDC Hepatitis A Fact Sheet“. Retrieved on 2008-03-03.
- ^ Jeff Linnen et al (26 January 1996). “Molecular Cloning and Disease Association of Hepatitis G Virus: A Transfusion-Transmissible Agent”. Science 271 (5248): 505–508. doi:10.1126/science.271.5248.505. PMID 8560265. Retrieved on 2006-11-06.
- ^ K Stark et al (December 1996). “Detection of the hepatitis G virus genome among injecting drug users, homosexual and bisexual men, and blood donors”. The Journal of Infectious Diseases 174 (6): 1320–1323. PMID 8940225. Retrieved on 2006-11-06.
- ^ Mario G. Pessoa et al. (30 December 2003). “Quantitation of hepatitis G and C viruses in the liver: evidence that hepatitis G virus is not hepatotropic”. Hepatology 27 (3): 877–880. doi:10.1002/hep.510270335. Retrieved on 2006-11-06.
- ^ “Hepatitis as a result of chemicals and drugs” (in English). HealthAtoZ. Retrieved on 2006-07-01.
- ^ J . Lim , P . Faught , N . Chalasani , J . Molleston. “Severe liver injury after initiating therapy with atomoxetine in two children”. The Journal of Pediatrics , Issue 6 , Pages 831 – 834 148 (6): 831–834.
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- ^ Nadir A, Reddy D, Van Thiel DH (2000). “Cascara sagrada-induced intrahepatic cholestasis causing portal hypertension: case report and review of herbal hepatotoxicity”. Am. J. Gastroenterol. 95 (12): 3634–7. doi:10.1111/j.1572-0241.2000.03386.x. PMID 11151906.