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Hepatitis is a term given to a viral infection of the liver that causes inflammation. What many patients do not realize, however, is that there are 5 distinctive subtypes of hepatitis that are recognized in medicine as being common occurrences in patients. They are aptly named Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E and will all present in a similar fashion.

Patients can expect to suffer from jaundice (a yellowing of your skin), fever, weight loss, fatigue, dark urine, an enlarged liver and nausea, vomiting and severe abdominal pain.

How you get the infection and the treatment of what to do after the infection are where these subtypes of the disease differ significantly. 

To briefly run through these different conditions, Hepatitis A and E are likely to be obtained after you travel to an area in the third world. It is transferred through the fecal-oral route and does not pose much of a threat to your life. These will typically self-resolve on their own.

Hepatitis C is the most dangerous and is associated with IV drug use, contaminated blood transfusions, and risky unprotected sex. Until recently, this disease could only be cured through liver transplant but newer medications are now on the market to help manage patients diagnosed with HCV. 

Hepatitis B is a type of infection that can be also linked with Hepatitis D. You will never be able to have a Hepatitis D infection on its own but when linked with Hepatitis B, patients will have much more severe symptoms. The disease is diagnosed when doctors see a high level of ALT and AST, increased levels of alkaline phosphatase, and an increased direct bilirubin on a blood test.

When it comes to actually treat the disease, there are several options out on the market that patients can benefit from taking. These agents include drugs like entecavir, tenofovir, lamivudine and adefovir just to name a few. The idea of treatment, in this case, is to make sure that you are able to stop the infection from getting into a chronic state. If you delay treatment, the virus causing hepatitis B will be able to replicate unopposed and lead to a more serious infection. Chronic HBV infections can increase your risk of liver cancer so it is a disease that is worth monitoring. 

There are some herbal remedies also used rarely to fight HBV but this is a route that I would not recommend. They are not nearly as effective as proper medications for the virus and any delay in the therapy will be more problematic for the patient. 

What I can recommend is that patients in high-risk situations take advantage of vaccinations that are available against HBV. This will protect you from the virus indefinitely so it is worthwhile to consult with your family doctor in order to schedule your vaccines. 

In the future, it is believed that we will have a more definite cure for the disease but until then, do what you can to reduce your chances of having this disease. [1]

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