Hepatitis is a condition that affects the liver. It causes inflammation that prevents the liver from functioning properly. Most commonly caused by a virus, it can disrupt how the liver filters impurities from the blood, inhibits the production of bile, prohibits the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, and destroys clotting factors needed to keep the person from hemorrhaging. There is a form of autoimmune hepatitis that causes the patient's own immune system to fight against the body's own liver tissues. Certain medications can also cause a type of hepatitis that acts much in the same way as the viral form.
While there are many different types of hepatitis, the symptoms for each type are similar. Signs of jaundice ( a yellowish tint to the eyes and skin), flu-like symptoms, extreme fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, and unexpected weight loss are common symptoms of liver malfunction that is the result of any of the types of hepatitis. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and may appear gradually over time. The most common sign that finally denotes a problem with the liver is the yellowish or orange tint to the eyes and skin. A person's urine may also turn very dark and have a distinct odor. Stools may become very pale due to the lack of bilirubin being produced.
Certain types of hepatitis can be prevented. Alcohol use, as well as certain types of medications, can cause hepatitis or hepatitis-like symptoms. Reducing the amount of alcohol consumed or avoiding certain medications may alleviate the symptoms. If viral hepatitis is the type in question, it is important to not share needles, toothbrushes, or any other item that may have come in contact with another person's blood. Hepatitis can also be contracted through foods that have not been cleaned. Many types of hepatitis can be prevented if proper precautions are taken. At this time, vaccinations are available to prevent certain types of hepatitis.