Difference between Hepatitis and Cirrhosis

Find Out a Few Differences between Hepatitis and Cirrhosis

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Do you want to know the difference between hepatitis and cirrhosis? Both are liver diseases that share both similarities and differences.

Symptoms of Liver Diseases

  • Liver spots or jaundice
  • Enlarged breasts in male patients
  • Itching of your skin
  • Vomiting of blood
  • Bleeding gums
  • Edema or swelling of your legs
  • Bacterial peritonitis
  • Ascites or also known as fluid in the abdomen
  • Sleep reversal
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Mental confusion or forgetfulness
  • Fatigue

Hepatitis

Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver. It also refers to a group of conditions that are usually caused by a certain virus. When hepatitis is inherited it is known as “congenital hepatitis”. It can also be brought on by too much alcohol consumption. There are two well-known forms of hepatitis: hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

Forms of Hepatitis

  • Hepatitis B - Hepatitis B is usually caused by HBV which is also known as hepatitis B virus, a member of hepadnavirus family. It can be spread through blood and symptoms occur during the acute stage. Chronic hepatitis B can lead to cirrhosis, then liver cancer.
  • Hepatitis C - This form of hepatitis is caused by HCV, also known as hepatitis C virus, which is a member of the Flavivirus family. It spreads through infected blood and can lead to liver cancer or cirrhosis. Most people won’t experience symptoms during early stages, and hepatitis C can be diagnosed when the damage is already advanced. 

    Diagnosis of Hepatitis

    Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are treated differently but both are diagnosed by blood tests. Medical professionals make use of viral load testing and serologies to easily and quickly diagnose hepatitis.

    Cirrhosis

    Cirrhosis is the scarring of the liver and is caused by injury, alcohol use or chronic hepatitis.

    Other causes include infections, inherited diseases and drug toxins. The liver is unique in that it can respond and regenerate to injury. However, with repeated injury, the liver becomes incapable to function effectively and properly, and scarring begins to develop.  

    As cirrhosis worsens, the function of the liver is lost and, simultaneously, the organ becomes smaller and it solidifies. If you have an unhealthy liver, fluid accumulates in the legs and abdomen. Bile salts can easily build up in skin which can lead to jaundice and itching. Bleeding from the large veins in your GI tract and esophagus may also occur. Toxins can also accumulate in the blood which can result ​in confusion and mental slowing. For those individuals with advanced cirrhosis, the only true, absolute, treatment for this disease is a liver transplant.

    Cirrhosis is also a condition where healthy liver tissue is replaced with nonfunctional scar tissue. This condition usually occurs in individuals who don’t control their alcohol intake.

    According to research, there isn’t a medicinal cure for cirrhosis. Nonetheless, proper treatment will reduce the severity of the symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. The first step that you should consider to reduce the symptoms of cirrhosis is to stop drinking alcohol. If you continue to drink alcohol, it can lead to liver damage and, in much worse scenarios, it can lead to premature death.

    References:

    Verschoor EJ, Warren KS, Langenhuijzen S, et. al. Analysis of two genomic variants of orang-utan hepadnavirus and their relationship to other primate hepatitis B-like viruses. J Gen Virol. 2001 Apr;82(Pt 4):893-7.

    Nagata H1, Ito M, Cai J, et. al. Treatment of cirrhosis and liver failure in rats by hepatocyte xenotransplantation. Gastroenterology. 2003 Feb;124(2):422-31.

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