Effects of Hepatitis on the Body
Even though there are different types of Hepatitis, it’s effects to the body are almost the same. All forms of hepatitis lead to liver inflammation. This means that all the symptoms and effects on the body will arise from liver related complications. The intensity of the effect will vary depending on how hard the virus has affected your liver.
What Happens When the Liver is Inflamed?
The liver’s main responsibility is filtering and processing blood from the digestive system before passing it to the rest of the body. It will take care of all toxins, chemicals and drugs hence reducing their impact on the body. The liver also works on blood sugar, fat metabolism and is also responsible for breaking down old or damaged blood cells. In addition to this, it produces bile that is necessary for digestion and creates other crucial proteins.
Any infection that attacks the liver reduces its ability to address the above responsibilities efficiently. Since hepatitis can result into liver cirrhosis (permanent damage or scarring of the liver,) each of the above tasks will fail hence leading to a domino-like effect on the body.
Effect of Hepatitis on the Digestive Tract
When your liver can’t produce enough bile, you will have a problem digesting fatty foods. The inflammation of the liver and the gallbladder will make the secretion of bile painful. Patients will feel some pain in the upper right part of the abdomen.
This pain can also be due to the liver’s inability to produce sufficient albumin. Albumin controls the amount of fluids in cells and it’s absence might lead to fluid build up in the stomach, a condition known as ascites that leads to the pain.
The incomplete digestion will also lead to:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Low appetite
- Pale or clay colored stool
- Darker urine
Hepatitis and the Circulatory System
The liver produces blood clotting proteins and cleanses toxins from the blood. Hepatitis damages the liver hence leading to blood circulatory related problems like portal hypertension that could sometimes result into internal (variceal) bleeding.
Your liver will not extract excess iron from the blood and store it for later use. This will force the kidneys to excrete it and will lead to anemia when the body needs the iron but can’t find it stocked in the liver. Finally, a failing liver will not regulate blood sugar properly hence could easily lead to type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance.
The Central Nervous System
Toxins in the blood will trickle down into your central nervous system resulting into hepatic encephalopathy. This condition will lead to symptoms like sleep problems, dry eyes and mouth and a sweet or musty breath. If the toxin build up gets to the brain, you could experience poor concentration, confusion, amnesia and sometimes personality changes. Other advanced effects of Hepatitis on the liver and hence the brain include
- Slurred speaking
- Disorientation or agitation
- Abnormal shaking
- Sometimes a coma
Other serious problems linked to Hepatitis include:
- Bilirubin build up in the skin and white of the eye when the liver can’t get rid of it fast enough hence leading to yellow eyes and jaundice
- Low iron levels in the body affect healthy skin, nails and hair
- An adverse effect in the endocrine system and the production of related hormones
All the effects of Hepatitis, apart from the immediate symptoms, are due to the virus’ impact on the liver. That is why most of the management and treatment therapies all focus on reducing it’s effect on the liver before working on eradicating the virus whenever possible.