Hepatitis is swelling and inflammation of the liver.Hepatitis is most commonly caused by a viral infection. There are, however, other causes of hepatitis. These include autoimmune hepatitis (a disease occurring when the body makes antibodies against the liver tissue) and hepatitis that occurs as a secondary result of medications, drugs, toxins and alcohol.
The liver is located on the upper right side of the abdomen. It performs many critical functions that affect metabolism throughout the body, including:
bile production that is essential to digestion
filtering of toxins from the body
excretion of bilirubin, cholesterol, hormones, and drugs
metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins
activation of enzymes (specialized proteins essential to metabolic functions)
storage of glycogen, vitamins (a, d and k), and minerals
synthesis of plasma proteins, such as albumin
synthesis of clotting factors
What Are the Symptoms of Hepatitis?
The period of time between exposure to hepatitis and the onset of the illness is called the incubation period. The incubation period varies depending on the specific hepatitis virus. Hepatitis A virus has an incubation period of about 15 to 45 days; Hepatitis B virus from 45 to 160 days, and Hepatitis C virus from about 2 weeks to 6 months. Many patients infected with HAV, HBV, and HCV have few or no symptoms of illness.
For those who do develop symptoms of viral hepatitis, the most common are flu- like symptoms including:
Loss of appetite
Muscle or joint aches
Nausea and vomiting
Other symptoms may include:
Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
Altered mental state, stupor, or coma I