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What are different ways to diagnose hepatitis?

Hepatitis is a medical condition in which the liver cells are inflamed.

Overview
– The word hepatitis comes from the Ancient Greek word hepar (root word hepat) which means ‘liver’, and the suffix Latin itis meaning inflammation.
– Its plural is hepatitides.
– This condition is recognized by the presence of inflammatory cells in the tissue of the organ.
– This condition can progress to cirrhosis and fibrosis.
– Hepatitis may occur with limited or no symptoms.
– It often leads to jaundice, anorexia (poor appetite) and malaise.
– Hepatitis is acute when it lasts less than six months.
– It is chronic when it persists longer.
– A group of viruses known as the hepatitis viruses cause most cases of hepatitis worldwide.
– It can also be due to toxins (notably alcohol, certain medications, some industrial organic solvents and plants).
– It can also be due to other infections and autoimmune diseases.

How many types of hepatitis are there?
There are five main types of hepatitis that are caused by a virus, A, B, C, D, and E – plus types X and G.

How is Hepatitis diagnosed?
– A blood test is usually needed to determine if a person has hepatitis.
– It is also important to stay well hydrated by drinking lots of fluids.
– Hepatitis B and C can sometimes be treated with medications.
– Some forms of medication used to treat hepatitis C are only approved for use in adults.
– Although treatments for hepatitis B and C are becoming more effective.

Diagnosis of Hepatitis A (HAV)
– A blood test showing the presence of IgM anti-HAV in serum.
– It confirms the diagnosis of acute hepatitis A infection.
– Symptoms of this virus strain include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Diagnosis of Hepatitis B (HBV)
Acute HBV infection is diagnosed by a simple blood test detecting the presence of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and IgM antibody to hepatitis B core antigen (anti-HBc IgM).

The following antibody variations can occur, each having a specific implication.

– Anti-HBs +:
Indicates individual has been vaccinated, has received immune globulin, is immune, or is an infant who has received antibodies from its mother.

– Anti-HBc +:
Indicates past or present infection and lasts indefinitely. Also may be detected in someone who has received immune globulin or an infant who has received antibodies from its mother.

– IgM anti-HBc +:
Indicates recent infection with HBV, usually within 4-6 months.

– HBeAg +:
Indicates active viral replication and high infectivity.

– HBsAg +:
Indicates acute or chronic HBV. Persistence for 6 months after acute infection indicates progression to chronic HBV.

Diagnosis of Hepatitis C (HCV)
– Infection by the hepatitis C virus can be determined by a blood test that detects HCV antibodies in the blood.
– This test is not a part of a routine physical
– People must ask their doctor for hepatitis C test
– If the initial test is positive, a second test should be done to confirm the diagnosis and liver enzymes (a blood test) should be measured.
– Anti-HCV (antibodies to the virus) may not be present in the first four weeks of infection
– HCV infection may be identified by the presence of anti-HCV in approximately 60% of people as early as 5-8 weeks after exposure.
– In some individuals HCV antibodies may not be detected for 5-12 months. HCV-RNA and RT-PCR tests can determine HCV presence in as little as 1-2 weeks.
– A liver biopsy can identify the type and degree of damage (and can determine the severity of the disease).
– The disease may gradually progress over a period of 10-40 years.

Diagnosis of Hepatitis D (HDV)
– A positive test for anti-HDV in a patient with acute hepatitis B indicates HBV/ HDV co-infection.
– Patients with chronic hepatitis B and a positive HDV test are super-infected.

Diagnosis of Hepatitis E (HEV)
– Testing for anti-HEV is usually reserved for returning travelers from the developing world in whom hepatitis is present.
– Other hepatitis viruses cannot be detected.
– Currently there is no treatment for HEV.

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