Inflammation of the Liver

Inflammation of the Liver

Hepatitis or the inflammation of the liver is a generic term that may indicate different possible causes of the condition. This article talks about the different types of inflammation, their causes, symptoms, etc.
HealthHearty Staff
Hepatitis is a condition where inflammatory cells are found in the tissues of the liver. This is generally a self-limiting condition. If hepatitis does not come in control, it may lead to fibrosis and cirrhosis. Inflammation occurs in the presence of liver diseases. An inflamed liver can also be seen if one is suffering from mononucleosis. This conditon is of two types that are divided according to the duration of the condition:
  • Acute Hepatitis: Inflammation that lasts for less than 6 months
  • Chronic Hepatitis: Inflammation that lasts for more than 6 months

There are various causes of inflammation of the liver, both acute as well as chronic. Let us have a look at the causes and symptoms in detail.

Acute Liver Inflammation Causes
Acute inflammation of the liver is a result of either of the following causes:
  • Viral infection such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, hepatitis D, or hepatitis E
  • Other viral infections like mononucleosis, herpes simplex, Epstein-Barr, yellow fever virus, adenovirus, and cytomegalovirus
  • Amoebic infections
  • Rocky mountain spotted fever
  • Severe bacterial infection
  • Use of medications like paracetamol, amoxicillin, minocycline, antituberculosis medicine, halothane (anesthetic)
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
Chronic Liver Inflammation Causes
Chronic inflammation of the liver is also a result of many causes such as:
  • Viral infection such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, hepatitis D
  • Overuse of medications
  • Alcohol
  • Autoimmune hepatitis wherein the bodies own immune system attacks the liver cells and destroys them
  • Drugs like isoniazid, ketoconazole, nitrofuratoin, methyldopa
  • Wilson's disease
  • Haemochromatosis

We shall discuss the symptoms according to acute and chronic conditions. Most of the symptoms vary in different individuals. A few may show no symptoms at all and in most of the patients, there are mild symptoms exhibited. This is especially true in case of inflammation of the liver in children.

Acute Inflammation Symptoms
These symptoms are generally asymptomatic in most cases. Acute inflammation in children is generally exhibited with very mild symptoms. During the early stages, the patient feels tired, has general malaise, and a slight fever. The patient may also develop nausea, loss of appetite, and feel a bitter or change of taste in the mouth. They may feel liver pain below the ribs due to an enlarged liver. Many patients suffer from muscle pain, joint pain, headache, and skin rash.

A patient may develop jaundice and show yellowing of the white potions of the eyes, skin, and nails. They pass dark colored urine and light-colored stools. The symptoms will slowly begin to subside and the patient may feel tired for many weeks on end. The condition lasts for about 2 to 6 weeks. In rare cases, the acute hepatitis develops into acute liver failure as it is unable to remove the harmful substances from the blood. The patients begin to feel confused and may slip into coma due to hepatic encephalopathy. The body produces blood proteins that lead to peripheral edema and bleeding. This is a life-threatening condition that requires an immediate transplant.

Chronic Inflammation Symptoms
In case of chronic hepatitis, there are non-specific symptoms or no symptoms at all. A few symptoms include general, unspecific symptoms like malaise, weakness, and tiredness. One can diagnose the inflammation only with the help of blood tests and evaluation of the nonspecific symptoms. In women with autoimmune hepatitis, one may see acne, abnormal menstruation, scarring of lungs, thyroid gland inflammation, and inflamed kidney.

In the advanced stages, one may develop jaundice and enlarged liver. The liver undergoes extensive damage and scarring or cirrhosis. The cirrhosis causes weight loss, easy bruising, and unexplained bleeding. It may also lead to peripheral edema, ascites, and a serious complication called esophageal varices. Hepatic encephalopathy and hepatorenal syndrome may develop, both of which are serious complications that lead to coma and kidney dysfunction.

Fatty Inflammation

Fatty inflammation refers to a medical condition called steatohepatitis. This syndrome is caused by the build up of fats in the liver cells. This may not cause much damage in itself, but this abnormal condition may lead to harmful problems. Fatty liver may lead to inflammation, scarring, and hardening of liver. The term steatohepatitis is a term used for fat accumulation. This condition resembles alcoholic fatty liver or alcoholic hepatitis. If fatty inflammation of the liver occurs in non-alcoholics, it is called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis or NASH.

There are no treatment options available for acute inflamed liver caused by viral hepatitis. In case of chronic hepatitis B, medications like interferon alfa or lamivudine is prescribed. Interferon alfa and ribavirin is used for chronic hepatitis C treatment. Corticosteroids are used to treat an inflamed liver caused by autoimmune hepatitis. You can speak to your doctor regarding the treatment options in your case. The above information will help you understand and seek help in case you are in doubt regarding a possible disorder.

Dietary Changes

A person suffering from this condition is prescribed to reduce all fatty and high calorie foods. Instead one should include a large amount of fruits and vegetables in their diet. One should also drink a lot of fluids to flush out toxins from the liver.

Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.