Hepatitis D

Hepatitis D

Hepatitis D is inflammation of the liver due to infection with the hepatitis delta virus (HDV). This disease can only occur in someone who is also infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV).

Hepatitis D is an uncommon type of hepatitis . This is because hepatitis delta virus infection only occurs if someone has been infected with hepatitis B before. Hepatitis D can be acute or chronic.

A person can get hepatitis D at the same time as hepatitis B, or because he already has hepatitis B in the long term (chronic). In these conditions, sufferers are at risk of experiencing severe liver damage.

Causes of Hepatitis D

Hepatitis D is caused by infection with the hepatitis delta virus (HDV). HDV is a type of incomplete virus and requires the help of the hepatitis B virus so that it can develop in the human body.

The liver plays an important role in metabolism and filtering toxic substances from the body. Inflammation of the liver due to hepatitis D can interfere with liver function, causing various complaints or symptoms to appear.

There are factors that can increase a person's risk of getting hepatitis D, namely:

  • Suffering from hepatitis B
  • Have sex with multiple partners
  • Living with sufferers or in areas where hepatitis D outbreaks occur
  • Receiving blood transfusions , especially if the donated blood does not go through strict examination or the tools used are not clean
  • Sharing the use of syringes with hepatitis D sufferers, for example due to injecting drug use

Although it rarely happens, the process of giving birth can also be a means of transmission of hepatitis D from a mother who is positive for this disease to her baby.

When you are infected with HDV, it is very easy for someone to spread it to others through direct contact with body fluids, such as blood, urine, vaginal fluids, or sperm fluids.

Even so, HDV does not spread through saliva or touch, for example when hugging or shaking hands with sufferers.

Symptoms of Hepatitis D

Most cases of hepatitis D don't cause symptoms. When symptoms appear, the complaints are similar to hepatitis B so that the two are difficult to distinguish. These symptoms can include:

  • Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes ( jaundice )
  • Joint pain
  • Stomach ache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Dark colored urine
  • Pale stools
  • Fatigue that is not known why

In rare cases, sufferers can also become confused and their skin bruises easily. The symptoms above generally appear 21–45 days after a person is infected with hepatitis D.

Please note, the above symptoms are more common in patients with acute hepatitis D. Meanwhile, patients with chronic hepatitis D often experience no symptoms unless their condition gets worse.

When to see a doctor

Immediately consult a doctor if you experience the symptoms of hepatitis D mentioned above. Early treatment is needed so that the condition does not get worse and complications can be prevented.

You are also advised to see a doctor if you are at risk of getting hepatitis D, for example because you already have hepatitis B or receive frequent blood transfusions.

If you have been diagnosed with hepatitis D, check with your doctor regularly to monitor your condition and prevent transmission of the disease.

Diagnosis of Hepatitis D

To diagnose hepatitis D, the doctor will conduct questions and answers about the patient's symptoms, medical history, and lifestyle of the patient.

Next, the doctor will do a thorough physical examination, including looking for changes in skin color, yellow color in the whites of the eyes, and swelling in the stomach.

To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor will carry out several supporting examinations, such as:

  • Blood test , to detect infection and the presence of anti-hepatitis D antibodies in the blood indicating that the patient has been exposed to the HDV virus
  • Liver function tests , to measure levels of protein, liver enzymes, and bilirubin, which is a measure of liver function and damage to these organs
  • Liver biopsy , to check for damage to liver tissue in the laboratory
  • Scan with abdominal ultrasound , CT scan, or MRI , to detect damage to the liver

Hepatitis D Treatment

Hepatitis D treatment aims to inhibit the multiplication of the hepatitis D virus (HDV). Some of the treatment methods that can be given by doctors include:

Interferon drugs

Interferon is a drug made from a type of protein that can stop the spread of viruses and prevent them from reappearing in the future. This medication is usually given by infusion every week for 1 year.

Anti virus

Antiviral drugs that can be given by doctors include entecavir , tenofovir, and lamivudine . These drugs can boost the immune system to fight viruses and inhibit the virus' ability to damage the liver.

Liver transplant

If hepatitis D has caused severe liver damage, the doctor will suggest a liver transplant . In this procedure, a damaged liver with hepatitis D is replaced with a healthy liver from a donor.

Hepatitis D complications

If not handled properly, hepatitis D can cause various complications, namely:

  • Cirrhosis
  • Liver failure
  • Heart cancer

If left untreated, hepatitis D can lead to concomitant infection or co-infection with hepatitis B and D. This condition can lead to fulminant hepatitis .

Prevention of Hepatitis D

The best way to prevent hepatitis D is to avoid factors that can increase the risk of hepatitis B. Some efforts that can be made are:

  • Undergo hepatitis B vaccination
  • Practice safe sex, namely by using a condom and not changing partners
  • Do not use drugs or share needles with other people
  • Do not share the use of toothbrushes and razors with other people
  • Use appropriate personal protective equipment , especially for medical personnel

If you have ever been diagnosed with hepatitis B or hepatitis D, do routine checks to the doctor and do not undergo blood donation so as not to transmit this disease to others.

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