Hepatitis refers to an inflammatory disease of the liver. The condition is commonly caused by a viral infection, but there are other possible causes of Hepatitis. These include autoimmune Hepatitis that occurs as a secondary result of toxins, drugs, alcohol and medications. Autoimmune Hepatitis is a disease that occurs when the body produces antibodies against the liver tissue.
A hepatitis panel is blood tests that check to see if you have a hepatitis infection caused by one of these viruses. There are different hepatitis panels. Some tests look for proteins (antibodies) that the body makes to fight the infection. Other tests look for antigens or the genetic material (DNA or RNA) of the viruses that cause Hepatitis.
Individuals may require a test if they have symptoms of liver damage. These symptoms include:
Those with certain risk factors may need testing, including people who:
There are many types of Hepatitis, but the three most common are:
Hepatitis A is mainly transmitted by consuming water or food contaminated by the stool of a person infected with Hepatitis A.
Hepatitis B is transmitted via contact with infectious body fluids, such as blood, semen or vaginal secretions that contain the hepatitis B virus. Injection drug use, unprotected sex, or sharing razors with an infected person increases the risk of contracting hepatitis B. For some people, hepatitis B infection can become chronic.
Like Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C is contracted via direct contact with infected body fluids, typically through injection drug use and unprotected sex.