All You Need To Know About Hepatitis

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Hepatitis is a public health threat that affects millions of people across the globe. Although it is usually caused by a viral infection, there are other common causes – there is autoimmune hepatitis and one that occurs as a result of medication, drugs and alcohol.

 

A recent study by The [1]Lancet reveals that 1.45 million people died of the disease.

 

There are three major types of hepatitis; Hepatitis A, B and C.  Although the symptoms are similar, they each have different treatments.

 

According to the [2]World Health Organization (WHO), Hepatitis A is caused by the hepatitis A virus which is transmitted through eating contaminated food and water or by being in contact with an infected individual. Here are a few facts about the disease:

  • Unlike hepatitis B and hepatitis C, hepatitis A does not cause long-term sickness.
  • It tends to only occur during epidemics and outbreaks.
  • The virus is found in the feces of an infected person and is extremely contagious.
  • Many infected people can go for long periods without showing any symptoms at all
  • Symptoms usually develop between 2 and 6 weeks.

 

[3]WebMD describes hepatitis B is an infection that can cause liver failure, scarring of the organ and cancer. If it remains untreated, it can lead to death. Here’s what you need to know about hepatitis B:

  • It is spread when people come in direct contact with blood, open sores of infected individuals.
  • It can also be spread through unprotected sex
  • It can lead to cirrhosis or hardening of the organ.
  • Carriers of the disease are advised to not donate blood, body organs, tissue or sperm.
  • Warning signs include jaundice, fever and fatigue that persists for months.

 

[4]Hepatitis C also affects the liver. According to [5]Mayo Clinic, hepatitis C causes liver inflammation, which can lead to serious liver damage. Here’s what you should know about Hepatitis C:

  • Symptoms include fatigue, poor appetite, itchy skin, fluid build-up in your abdomen, swelling in your legs and weight loss.
  • Chronic hepatitis C starts with an acute phase, which usually goes undiagnosed because symptoms rarely show.
  • Hepatitis C can cause significant complications including scarring of the liver, and liver failure.
  • Your risk of hepatitis C increases if you were born between 1945 and 1965, the age group with the highest incidence of hepatitis C infection.

 

Hepatitis B Foundation offers the following tips for people living with Hepatitis B:

  • Get monitored regularly
  • If you’ve been prescribed an antiviral, take it every day
  • Demand to be screened for liver cancer
  • Practice safe sex and never re-use needles

 

World Hepatitis Day is observed every year on the 28th of July to help raise awareness about viral hepatitis and to influence real change in disease prevention. Under the theme “Find the Missing Millions,” this year’s focus is on the millions of people living with chronic hepatitis B but are unaware of their diagnosis.

 

[1] https://www.thelancet.com/journals/langas/article/PIIS2468-1253(18)30056-6/fulltext

[2] http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hepatitis-a

[3] https://www.webmd.com/hepatitis/digestive-diseases-hepatitis-b#2

[4] http://www.hepb.org/blog/ten-things-people-with-hepatitis-b-need-to-know-in-2016/

[5] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hepatitis-c/symptoms-causes/syc-20354278