FACTS ABOUT HEPATITIS

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Hepatitis is the inflammation and damage of liver cells, there several types and causes of hepatitis. The liver functions include detoxifying the blood, storing vitamins and producing hormones. Hepatitis can destroy the functions of the liver and cause health problems to the body throughout.

There are three main hepatitis viruses which are hepatitis A, B, and C. Hepatitis can occur as a result of too much consumption of alcohol .all these viruses can be acute, which can last for 6months or less, while type B and C can be chronic. These symptoms are similar, they are transmitted differently and also have different characteristics.

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Hepatitis A

Most people get a full recovery, after which they are immune and therefore protected from the virus in the future, Symptoms can be severe. People in the rural part of the world are at risk of contracting the hepatitis A virus. There are safe and effective vaccines that protect against this virus.

Hepatitis B   

An infected mother can transmit the virus to her baby when breastfeeding. The liver of an infected person gets swollen which could cause great damage. It could also cause complications like cirrhosis, it can cause a particular type of cancer called hepatocellular carcinoma.

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C can lead to liver damage and swelling, it can also lead to liver cancer. People who receive organ and blood donation before testing are put at a high risk of contracting hepatitis C. health workers are also put at risk because they are exposed to users of intravenous drugs and an infant born to a mother with the virus.

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TREATMENT

Hepatitis A: they patient is usually advised by the doctor to abstain from taking alcohol and hard drugs during the recovery. There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A.

Hepatitis B: an HBV patient needs to abstain from alcohol completely. The doctor will prescribe an antiviral agent called interferon.

Hepatitis C: antivirals and some combined therapies are now available to treat the HCV based on its subtype, The virus could be prevented from reproducing when medication is taken correctly. This medication is very expensive but the cure rate is high.

SYMPTOMS

Many people with hepatitis experience mild or no symptoms. When symptoms appear, they can do so from 15 to 180 days after infection. The initial phase of hepatitis is called the acute phase. The symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mild fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Slight abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Jaundice

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The acute phase is not dangerous but in some patient, it can cause liver failure and death, it may progress to hepatitis B and  C.  at this chronic stage these symptoms may occur:

  • Dark urine
  • Hives
  • Itchy skin
  • Light-colored feces
  • Yellow skin
  • The whiteness of the eyes and tongue

Some people might not know they have chronic hepatitis until liver failure occurs.

DIAGNOSIS 

A doctor will perform a medical examination and ask for a medical history to know if a patient has been exposed to a likely cause of hepatitis. If hepatitis is suspected the following tests can confirm a diagnosis:

  • Blood test: they can check the levels of certain liver proteins and enzymes, they detect if the body is producing antibodies to fight the disease.
  • Nucleic acids test: HBV DNA and HCV RNA test can confirm the speed at which the virus is reproducing in the liver and this will show how active the disease is.
  • A liver biopsy: this can measure the extent of liver damage and the possibility of cancer.
  • Paracentesis: abdominal fluid is extracted and tested, to identify the cause of fluid accumulation.
  • Elastography: this measures the liver’s stiffness by emitting sound waves.
  • Surrogate makers: a type of blood test to assess the development of cirrhosis and fibrosis.

Treatment will depend on the diagnosis.

CAUSES

Hepatitis A: is caused by consuming food and water infected with the hepatitis A virus. The virus can be contracted through oral sex or by injecting drugs.

Hepatitis B: it is spread through contact with infected blood, semen, and some other body fluids.

Hepatitis C: it is transmitted through injected narcotics, needle-stick injuries and a lack of infection control in the healthcare settings.

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PREVENTION

Hepatitis A can be prevented as follows:

  • Wash hands with soap after using the restroom.
  • Only consume food that has just been cooked.
  • Consume only bottled water or boiled water.
  • Only eat peelable fruits if you are in a location with no good sanitation.
  • Only eat raw vegetables if you are sure they are clean.
  • Get the vaccine for HAV before traveling to places.

Make Hepatitis B can be prevented as follows:

  1. Sure you tell your partner if you are a carrier.
  2. Practice safe sex using condoms.
  3. Only use previously unused, clean needles.
  4. Do not share toothbrushes, razor and manicure instruments.
  5. Have the HBV vaccination if you are at risk.

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Hepatitis C can be prevented as follows:

  • Do not share needles, toothbrushes and manicure equipment.
  • Make sure equipment is well sterilized for any skin piercing.
  • Consume alcohol with moderation.
  • Do not inject illegal drugs.

Hepatitis A and C are curable but hepatitis B is only preventable by vaccine.

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