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Hepatitis literally means swelling, or inflammation, of the liver. It is usually thought of as exclusively a viral disease, such as Hepatitis A, B, or C. However, inflammation of the liver can also be caused by other factors.

The liver is largely responsible for filtering toxins and neutralizing harmful chemicals in the blood stream. If it has to work harder than normal, such as with alcoholism, it can become inflamed and will eventually suffer further damage, such as cirrhosis or liver cancer.

Causes of Hepatitis

  •  Autoimmune hepatitis occurs when immune cells attack the liver
  • Viral infection, such as that caused by Hepatitis A, B, or C
  • Bacterial Infections
  • Parasites
  • Liver damage caused by alcohol, ingested poisons, or poisonous mushrooms
  • Medications. An overdose, or chronic consumption, of acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol) is a common factor.

Inherited diseases, such as Cystic Fibrosis, Wilson’s Disease, and hemochromatosis (excess iron deposits in the liver) can also be responsible for hepatitis.

What Are the Symptoms of Hepatitis?

  •  A painful or distended abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Dark colored urine and/or clay colored stool
  • Fatigue
  • Increase of breast size in males
  • Jaundice
  • Overall skin irritation/itching
  • Vomiting
  • Fever, although it is usually low-grade
  • Unusual and unexplained weight loss

Hepatitis B and C can be asymptomatic (meaning there are no tangible symptoms) for quite a while. Anyone whose lifestyle puts them at risk for either of those diseases should be tested regularly.

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