Hepatitis is a medical condition that refers to inflammation of the liver; it is mainly caused by a virus (the hepatitis virus) and there are five types of hepatitis namely hepatitis A, B, C, D and E, a different virus is responsible for each type but in this article.
We will be looking mainly at hepatitis D which is a rare form of hepatitis and it is considered the most severe form of viral hepatitis.
Hepatitis D also known as hepatitis Delta is the inflammation of the liver that is caused by the Hepatitis D virus (HDV) or the delta virus; it only affects those that have been infected with or have chronic hepatitis B and it can be chronic most times.
Hepatitis D virus cannot occur in the absence of hepatitis B virus because it is an incomplete virus and it requires Hepatitis B virus for replication; that is to say that hepatitis D cannot be contacted on its own, it only develops in people who already have hepatitis B infection.
That is why chronic hepatitis B carriers have the highest risk of getting this infection and people that do not have immunity against hepatitis B are also at risk of the HDV.
Hepatitis D can be acute or chronic; it is acute when it occurs suddenly and cause severe symptoms but goes away on its own in less than six months while chronic hepatitis D lasts longer than six months and as it progresses it raises risks for other chronic diseases and health complications.
How is hepatitis D spread or contracted?
The infection spreads when a healthy person comes in contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person and it also spreads through sex with infected person.
It can be transmitted through urine, blood, saliva, semen and vaginal fluids; it is rarely transmitted from mother to child and HDV cause more severe hepatitis and a faster progression of fibrosis than HBV.
It can also be transmitted through blood transfusion and sharing of needles, razor blades and sharp objects with infected people.
A person infected with the delta virus can infect others even before symptoms begin to appear and it is estimated that 5% of people infected with hepatitis B will develop hepatitis D; hepatitis D can also develop immediately one is infected with hepatitis B.
The World Health Organization estimated that 15 million people around the globe are infected with hepatitis D; this infection has no antiviral treatment, cure or vaccine yet but it can be prevented by hepatitis B immunization.
This liver infection is more common in the Mediterranean region, sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and the northern part of South America; it is rare in most developed countries. There are three main genotypes of hepatitis D; they are: Genotype 1, Genotype 2 and Genotype 3.
Symptoms of Hepatitis D
Hepatitis D rarely causes symptoms; in most cases it have the same symptoms as hepatitis B and this makes it difficult to know which virus is responsible; it can even make the symptoms of hepatitis B worse and can cause symptoms in people who are infected with hepatitis B but have never had symptoms.
Some symptoms of hepatitis D are: yellowing of the eyes and skin (a medical condition commonly known as jaundice), joint pain, abdominal and stomach pain, fever, muscle pain, rash, vomiting, and loss of appetite, dark coloured urine and fatigue.
Diagnosis of hepatitis D
Delta hepatitis is diagnosed by:
- Blood test: This involves checking blood samples for viruses that cause hepatitis; it also involves checking for hepatitis D antibodies and if they are found it means the patient have been infected with the virus.
- Liver tests: These are biochemical tests that are carried out to know he state of the liver and its functions; blood samples are used and if the enzymes of the liver are high, it is a sign that the liver is either stressed, damaged or not working properly. The levels of proteins and bilirubin can also be used to know if the liver has been stressed or damaged.
What are the long term effects of hepatitis D?
Chronic and progressive hepatitis D can lead to:
- Cirrhosis of the liver (also known as scarring of the liver)
- Liver failure
- Sever liver damage
- Liver cancer
Natural Remedies for Hepatitis D
The home and natural remedies for Hepatitis B can be used to reduce the symptoms of hepatitis D and also to treat it since it is a defective virus that depends on hepatitis B for survival and reproduction.
Healthy lifestyle, good personal hygiene, quality hydration, quality nutrition and enough bed rest is also needed alongside the natural remedies to hasten quick healing and recovery.
Remember to consult your doctor before taking any herbal concoction to prevent any adverse side effect.