oa SA Pharmaceutical Journal - Hepatitis : review



Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. The degree of severity of hepatitis varies from acute self-limiting to severe chronic cases involving fibrosis, cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma or liver failure. Hepatitis occurs due to infection, the use of toxic substances, e.g. alcohol and drugs, and autoimmune disease. However, viral hepatitis infection is the most common cause. Five main types of viral hepatitis have been identified, namely hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, hepatitis D and hepatitis E viruses. The transmission of hepatitis A and E primarily occurs through the faecal-oral route, whereas the transmission of hepatitis B, C and D is due to contact with infected blood and bodily fluids. This review focuses on the route of transmission, symptoms, diagnosis, and the treatment and prevention options for the five main types of hepatitis viral infection. Immunisation plays a significant role in the prevention of certain types of viral hepatitis. Available vaccines are highlighted. Pharmacists can use this information to educate patients and reduce the incidence and mortalities associated with hepatitis, particularly viral hepatitis.


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