Overview of Hepatitis

Hepatitis is a liver disorder that can be caused by many things and damages the liver.

Hepatitis refers to any type of inflammation in the liver. It can be caused by a number of disorders.

  • Heavy alcohol use can cause liver injury or hepatitis (alcoholic hepatitis).
  • The following medications can cause liver injury in susceptible individuals:
    • Isoniazid (Laniazid, Nydrazid) to treat tuberculosis
    • Methyldopa to treat high blood pressure
    • Amiodarone (Cordarone, Pacerone) to treat irregular heart rhythms
  • Acetaminophen is a common pain reliever and fever reducer. It is found in remedies for back pain, headache, and sleep. It is also found in a variety of cold and flu symptom treatments. It is one of the most common active drug ingredients in the U.S. and is found in more than 500 over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medicines. Common brand names containing Acetaminophen include Tylenol, NyQuil, DayQuil, Percocet, and Vicodin.
    • Acetaminophen is a common and devastating cause of medication-induced liver damage. Sometimes you run the risk of massive necrosis (death). Or catastrophic failure of the liver can occur.
    • This can happen if you take more acetaminophen than directed. You also run the risk if you take multiple medications that contain acetaminophen.
    • Taking this medication while consuming three or more alcoholic drinks daily can also cause damage to the liver.
  • The liver also may be injured and become inflamed by the immune system (autoimmune hepatitis). Or it can be harmed from increased iron storage (hemochromatosis).
  • Obesity and diabetes are associated with fatty accumulation in the liver. This is known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Microscopically and clinically, it looks similar to alcoholic liver disease. The difference is that there is no history of heavy alcohol use. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is the most common cause of chronic liver disease.

Talk to your doctor if you suspect any of these conditions.

Medication adherence

The World Health Organization defines medication adherence as "the degree to which the person's behavior corresponds with the agreed recommendations from a health care provider." Poor adherence to prescribed regimens can result in serious health impacts including hospitalization and death.

About half of all medications for chronic diseases are not taken correctly. People change or skip doses, stop too soon, don’t take them at all, or never fill their prescriptions.

What to do when you get a new medication:

  • Take notes on what your doctor tells you about the medication.
  • Double check with the pharmacist on how to take the medication.
  • Ask questions to make sure you fully understand the medication. Be clear about when and how to take it.
  • Creating a chart for your daily medication regimen can help you stay on track. So might a pill box with multiple sections. This is helpful if you take more than one medication. This is also helpful if you take medications more than once a day. 
  • If you’re being treated for a chronic condition, check regularly with your doctor about whether you are taking the medication(s) correctly.
  • If you are concerned about or are experiencing side effects, talk to your doctor.
  • Do not take yourself off of medications without the knowledge and guidance of your doctor.
  • If you’re having trouble sticking to your medication, for any reason, talk with your doctor. They may be able to suggest other treatments or refer you to services that can help.