The forms of hepatitis are different and can be both viral and non-infectious: those triggered by the virus are hepatitis A, B, C, Delta and E, while non-infectious hepatitis is those caused by certain drugs or metabolic nature as a result of diabetes, hypertension or alcohol abuse, obesity.

By 2018, 250 million people in the world suffer from hepatitis B, approximately 70 million from C, while in Italy we have a thousand new cases every year.

Dr. Massimo Colombo, a specialist in General Medicine and Hepatology in Humanitas, spoke about hepatitis.

What happens to the liver in case of hepatitis?

“The term hepatitis indicates an inflammation and destruction of liver cells, a phenomenon that can be achieved in two mechanisms – explained the professor – rarely by direct toxicity to an offensive agent, such as a virus or a drug, more often happens because the diseased cells are removed from the immune system through lymphocytes and the liver loses its functional capacity.

There are acute and chronic hepatitis: “acute hepatitis are typical of many viruses and can heal themselves in not many months, but are often recognized with difficulty, there are not always the classic symptoms such as jaundice, liver pain or other non-specific symptoms such as fatigue. In many cases there are no acute episodes, with clear symptoms and the diagnosis is made only through screening and medical checks”.

The most common forms

The forms of hepatitis that most threaten the liver are viral ones from specific viruses, i.e. A, B, C, Delta and E; then there are also specific forms of hepatitis caused by “other viruses that in the general framework of an inflammation of the body such as mononucleosis, cytomegalovirus or herpes can damage the liver in an acute way”, clarified the professor.

Among these “the most common viral hepatitis is that composed of groups of viruses A and E, patients become infected through fecal-oral transmission, they become infected by eating infected food. While hepatitis C and B are transmitted by blood droplets or sexually,” added Colombo.

Pharmacological therapies and treatments

The therapies are obviously different according to the different forms of hepatitis from which the patient suffers. In some viral forms, the doctor will prescribe antiviral drugs and interferons, while in other forms you heal spontaneously, often without even the patient’s awareness, unless he had symptoms. In any case, today’s treatments “are less invasive than in the past and more effective,” said the professor.

“When you recover the liver is healed and returns to normal function. It should be remembered, however, that many patients heal definitively after 20-30 years of infection: for these people it is necessary to check more frequently even every six months to verify the functionality of the liver”.