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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Fast-Acting Remedies for Liver Diseases (Hepatitis)


Lao Tzu said, in his famous book "The Art of War," the basic requisite to win a war is to know well your enemy.  To be able to win our battle against liver disease, therefore, is to start with at least a basic knowledge of the illness. 


Liver disease is categorized, both by the cause and the effect it has on the liver. 

Causes may include infection, injury, exposure to drugs or toxic compounds, an auto-immune process, or a genetic defect (such as hemochromatosis). 

These causes can lead to hepatitis, cirrhosis, stones that develop and form blockages, fatty liver, and in rare instances, liver cancer. 

Genetic defects can prevent vital liver functions and lead to the deposition and build-up of damaging substances, such as iron or copper.

There are two major forms of hepatitis: one in which the liver is inflamed quickly (called acute hepatitis) and one in which the liver is inflamed and damaged slowly, over a long period of time (called chronic hepatitis).  

While hepatitis can be caused by any of the means mentioned above, most commonly it is due to infection by one of several viruses, termed hepatitis viruses.  These are hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. 
  • Hepatitis A -- spread through infected water and food and is especially common in children.  Adults may experience symptoms, such as jaundice, nausea, diarrhea, and fatigue, but children often do not even know they have been exposed to the virus.
  • Hepatitis B -- can be spread by exposure to blood, through sexual relations, and from mother to baby.  Symptoms of hepatitis B may be absent, mild and flu-like, or acute.

  • Hepatitis C - spread mainly by exposure to contaminated blood and is less common than hepatitis B as a cause of acute hepatitis, but the majority of the people who contract it become chronically infected, able to spread the infection to others, and usually have chronic damage to the liver.

  • Hepatitis D - transmitted by blood and blood products. It only occurs in the presence of hepatitis B infection. The risk factors for infection are similar to those for hepatitis B.

  • Hepatitis E - a waterborne disease, and contaminated water or food supplies have been implicated in major outbreaks. Consumption of faecally contaminated drinking water has given rise to epidemics, and the ingestion of raw or uncooked shellfish has been the source of sporadic cases in endemic areas.


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Symptoms of Hepatitis

Typical signs and symptoms of hepatitis include:

  • jaundice (yellow discoloration of the skin and sclera of the eyes, dark urine and pale stools),
  • anorexia (loss of appetite), an enlarged, tender liver (hepatomegaly),
  • abdominal pain and tenderness,
  • nausea and vomiting, and
  • fever, although the disease may range in severity.

Since the liver is responsible for the metabolism of alcohol, drugs, and environmental toxins, prolonged exposure to any of these can also cause hepatitis and/or cirrhosis. Combinations of drugs (for instance, acetaminophen) and alcohol have the potential to cause life-threatening acute liver failure.  

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