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Hepatitis
Hepatitis is swelling and inflammation of the liver. It is not a condition, but is often used to refer to a viral infection of the liver.

 
Hepatitis can be caused by:
Immune cells in the body attacking the liver and causing autoimmune hepatitis
Infections from viruses (such as hepatitis A, B, or C), bacteria, or parasites
Liver damage from alcohol, poisonous mushrooms, or other poisons
Medications, such as an overdose of acetaminophen, which can be deadly
Liver disease can also be caused by inherited disorders such as cystic fibrosis or hemochromatosis, a condition that involves having too much iron in your body (the excess iron deposits in the liver).


Symptoms:
Hepatitis may start and get better quickly (acute hepatitis), or cause long-term disease (chronic hepatitis). In some instances, it may lead to liver damage, liver failure, or even liver cancer.

How severe hepatitis is depends on many factors, including the cause of the liver damage and any illnesses you have. Hepatitis A, for example, is usually short-term and does not lead to chronic liver problems.

The symptoms of hepatitis include abdominal pain or distention, breast development in males, dark urine and pale or clay-colored stools, fatigue, fever, usually low-grade, general itching, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, & weight loss.

Many people with hepatitis B or C do not have symptoms when they are first infected. They can still develop liver failure later. If you have any risk factors for either type of hepatitis, you should be tested regularly.

A physical examination may show:
Enlarged and tender liver
Fluid in the abdomen (ascites) that can become infected
Yellowing of the skin


Nutritional Management of Hepatitis:
Poor nutrition is rarely a cause of liver disease, but good nutrition in the form of a balanced diet, may help liver cells damaged by hepatitis viruses to regenerate, forming new liver cells. Nutrition can be an essential part of treatment. Many chronic liver diseases are associated with malnutrition.

Too much daily protein may cause hepatic encephalopathy (mental confusion). This occurs when the amount of dietary protein is greater than the liver's ability to use the protein. This causes a build up of toxins that can interfere with brain function. Protein is restricted in patients with clinical evidence of encephalopathy. However, controversy exists regarding the type of protein a diet should contain. Vegetable and dairy protein may be tolerated well than meat protein. Due to the body's need for proteins, protein restriction should only be undertaken with a doctor's advice.

Excess calories in the form of carbohydrates can add to liver dysfunction and can cause fat deposits in the liver. No more than 30% of a person's total calories should come from fat because of the danger to the cardiovascular system.

Patients with fluid retention and swelling of the abdomen (ascites), or the legs (peripheral edema), may need diets low in salt to avoid sodium retention that contributes to fluid retention.

Excessive amounts of some vitamins may be an additional source of stress to the liver that must act as a filter for the body. Mega-vitamin supplements, particularly if they contain vitamins A and D, may be harmful. Excess vitamin A is very toxic to the liver.

Avoiding beer, wine, cocktails, champagne, and liquor in any other form proves beneficial. If you continue to drink, your liver will pay the price.

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