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Chronic persistent hepatitis


Alternative names

Persistent hepatitis; Hepatitis - persistent; Chronic lobular hepatitis; Mild chronic hepatitis

Definition

Chronic persistent hepatitis is mild liver inflammation (swelling and irritation with presence of extra immune cells) that can be caused by various viruses and conditions.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Chronic persistent hepatitis can be caused by hepatitis B ( HBV ), hepatitis C ( HCV ), hepatitis D (HDV), autoimmune diseases such as lupus , various medications, and unknown (cryptogenic) causes. Most people have no symptoms.

Risk factors include previous viral hepatitis , having lupus or other autoimmune disease, and taking certain medications.

Symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Lack of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
Note: There may be no symptoms.

Signs and tests

  • Hepatitis B surface antigen (may be positive)
  • Hepatitis C antibody (may be positive)
  • Hepatitis D antibody (may be positive)
  • Tests for lupus or other autoimmune disease (may be positive)
  • Liver biopsy
  • Liver enzymes (mildly elevated)

Treatment

Treatment is not always needed and depends on the underlying cause of the hepatitis. Each case should be reviewed to determine whether treatment would be helpful. New therapies for chronic viral infections are now able to stop or reverse some liver damage caused by certain viruses.

Expectations (prognosis)

Most people recover from symptoms of chronic hepatitis. However, if the condition is caused by a virus such as HCV that can cause progressive liver damage, the hepatitis may worsen and cause severe liver scarring, liver failure, and potentially death.

Complications

Progression to liver failure is uncommon with many causes of chronic hepatitis. However, people with viral hepatitis and/or depressed immune systems, including those with HIV , are at higher risk.

Calling your health care provider

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if symptoms of hepatitis worsen or persist.

Prevention

People in high-risk groups such as health care workers can receive a hepatitis B immunization (vaccine) . Safer sex techniques decrease the risk of acquiring hepatitis through sexual contact. Intravenous drug users should seek addiction treatment or avoid sharing needles and any other injection-related paraphernalia.

You can contract hepatitis by simply handling an infected person's injection paraphernalia. Several forms of viral hepatitis are hundreds of times more transmissible via blood than HIV, and they can live for hours, even in dried blood.

Update Date: 7/31/2002

Christopher Parsons, M.D., Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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