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Viral Hepatitis

One possible cause of elevated liver enzymes is viral hepatitis. This can actually occur in multiple forms, with the three being discussed on this page as A, B, and C.

Hepatitis A (HAV)

This version of the disease is only acute in nature and does not have a chronic form. It is generally passed from one person to another through either direct contact with someone who is capable of passing the infection, or by consuming food or water that is contaminated with the virus. Those who are infected as children generally do not show any symptoms (more than 90 percent of the time), and after the disease has run its course the person has an immunity to it for his lifetime. On the other hand, adults who come down with hepatitis A tend toward symptomatic infections, with around 80 percent displaying symptoms. Rarely, around once per 200 cases, acute liver failure can occur and be fatal.

Hepatitis B (HBV)

This form of viral hepatitis can be either chronic or acute, however, in this instance the latter is being discussed in relation to elevated liver enzymes. It is thought that over 2 billion people worldwide have been infected with this virus, with around 350 million chronic cases. Contact with infectious body fluids or blood can lead to transmission of the hepatitis B virus. Jaundice is one possible symptom of the acute type of this condition. Liver inflammation is typical (being behind the name of the disease) and vomiting is also possible. In rare cases, it can be fatal. The chronic form can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer and is more frequently fatal (in the long run).

Hepatitis C (HCV)

Hepatitis C begins as an acute infection, which is often without symptoms. If the infection persists for longer than six months, then it is considered a chronic case. Overall, the majority of patients infected with hepatitis C will develop the chronic form of the disease. In those who do, untreated cases lead to liver cirrhosis in under 20 years roughly one-third of the time. Along with having elevated liver enzymes, some symptoms that a patient might present include: fatigue, joint pain, nausea, depression, variations in appetite, and pruritus (itching), amongst others. Cirrhosis can also lead to various medical signs and symptoms. AST and ALT are liver enzymes that are frequently raised in this chronic illness.

You can continue reading about possible elevated liver enzymes causes, or head to the home page for information on other aspects.

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