Hepatitis is the presence of inflammation of the liver cells. It may have several associated etiologies, including viruses (Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis D, Hepatitis E), with hepatitis A, B and C being the most common and a major cause of mortality.
However, there are other causes associated with liver damage such as changes in our immune system – the body’s defense system (the so-called autoimmune hepatitis), caused by the consumption of some toxic products (alcohol, drugs, natural products) or that caused by fat in the liver, increasingly prevalent in a society where the metabolic syndrome has become a real pandemic.
The liver is an important organ in our digestive system, and in the event of inflammation or injury, its function may be compromised, leading to various short- or long-term complications.
The severity and prognosis of hepatitis vary greatly depending on the etiologic agent responsible and the existing comorbidities. In some cases, hepatitis may progress very favorably, requiring only rest and symptomatic treatment, but in other cases, it may progress to severe or fatal disease, either in the acute phase or with long-term complications such as cirrhosis or liver cancer.
In terms of temporal clinical presentation, we can classify hepatitis into:
Acute hepatitis – the term acute hepatitis is used when symptoms have a duration of less than 6 months.
Chronic hepatitis – Chronic hepatitis is an inflammatory disorder of the liver which lasts longer than 6 months, i.e. when it is persistent over time.
Signs and symptoms in hepatitis
The symptoms can happen a little differently in each child. Some children have no symptoms at all.
Symptoms of sudden (acute) hepatitis may include:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes (jaundice)
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Not feeling well
- Stomach pain or discomfort
- Joint pain
- Sore muscles
- ed itchy hives on the skin
- Clay-colored stools
- Dark-colored urine
Diagnosis of Hepatitis in Children
Your child’s healthcare provider may perform blood tests for the following:
Antibody and polymerase chain reaction. This is to check the type of hepatitis.
Cell blood counts
Coagulation tests. These include the international normalized ratio.
A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body. This test will show your child’s bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general X-rays.
Ultrasound uses sound waves to examine parts of the body. It is very effective in examining the liver.
Magnetic resonance imaging
This test uses large magnets, radio waves, and a computer. Together, they show detailed images of organs and structures inside your child’s body.
Your child’s doctor can take a sample of tissue from your child’s liver. Then they can look at it closely under a microscope.
Treatment in children
Treatment will depend on the symptoms, age, and general health of the child.
The goal of treatment is to stop liver damage and relieve symptoms.
Usually treatments involve medication to reduce the itching and treat the virus, and the child should eat a healthy diet.
At the stage when there is liver failure, there is a need for a liver transplant.
Hepatitis caused by viruses (viral hepatitis) is contagious. In other words, the disease is “passed or caught” from one person to another. Contagion can occur through contact with a person infected with the virus.
Transmission of the disease can be prevented by taking a number of prophylactic measures, such as avoiding contact with the blood of people infected with hepatitis B and C and avoiding contact with the feces of people with hepatitis A and E.
In the case of toxic hepatitis and autoimmune hepatitis, there is no risk of contagion from person to person.
How can hepatitis be prevented?
As we saw earlier, hepatitis is easily transmitted from person to person if certain preventive measures are not taken. There are some preventive measures that should be taken by everyone in order to prevent contracting the disease.
- Wash your hands well
- Drink only boiled or filtered water
- Wash food well before consumption
- Always use condoms during sexual intercourse
- Demand sterilized or disposable material in medical and dental offices, beauty salons, tattoo and piercing studios
- Do not share needles, syringes, razor blades and toothbrushes
- Keep your vaccination card up to date