In addition to being one of the largest organs in the body, the liver produces a greenish-brown fluid called bile which aids in the absorption of fats.

Bile is secreted in the intestines daily, more so after meals. From the liver, bile travels to the duodenum or intestinal tract. It disinfects ...In addition to being one of the largest organs in the body, the liver produces a greenish-brown fluid called bile which aids in the absorption of fats.

Bile is secreted in the intestines daily, more so after meals. From the liver, bile travels to the duodenum or intestinal tract. It disinfects that part of the body and helps digest vitamins A, D, E and K which the body needs.

Aside from secreting bile, the liver removes waste products from the blood and controls many chemical processes which are essential to life. This makes it one of the most important organs of the human body that is very hard to replace.

Like other organs, though, the liver is vulnerable to certain diseases. It may be infected by a virus, thereby obstructing the flow of bile into the intestines. When bile pigment is absorbed by the blood and accumulates, the skin may turn yellow together with the whites of the eyes. When that happens, chances are you are suffering from hepatitis, an infectious disease of which there is no known cure.

Several viruses are responsible for hepatitis but the two most common strains are hepatitis A and hepatitis B. The former comes from contaminated food or water and occurs in areas where there is poor sanitation. This type usually disappears when jaundice (yellowing of the skin) disappears.

The more dangerous type, hepatitis B, on the other hand, can persist for years or even a lifetime. This type is transmitted through contaminated blood (as in the case of blood donors), needles (especially among drug users) and intercourse. The virus can be found in all body fluids like tears, urine, saliva and semen. Patients may not be aware that they have the disease and become carriers, transmitting the virus to others. Untreated, permanent liver damage or cancer can result.

“The hepatitis B virus (HBV) is transmitted through contact with the blood and body fluids of someone who is infected. You're especially at risk if you are an intravenous (IV) drug user who shares needles or other paraphernalia, have unprotected sexual contact with an infected partner, or were born in or travel to parts of the world where hepatitis B is widespread. In addition, women with HBV can pass the infection to their babies during childbirth,” explained the Mayo Clinic.

The symptoms of both types of hepatitis are the same but their incubation periods differ. Hepatitis A usually appears after 14 to 40 days while the B strain is confirmed after 40 to 180 days. In both cases, there is fatigue, pain in the joints and muscles and loss of appetite. The patient may have low grade fever and suffer from nausea and vomiting. He may experience chills and lose weight before jaundice starts.

Whatever strain has affected the patient, he or she should consult a doctor for the right treatment. Hospitalization is necessary with more serious cases. A vaccine is available to prevent both types of hepatitis.

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Author's Bio: 

Janet Martin is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and published author. Many of her insightful articles can be found at the premiere online news magazine www.thearticleinsiders.com.