Hepatitis is a common disease that results in the inflammation of the liver. The liver is a vital organ in the body that breaks down the food particles for the digestive system and is important for metabolism. Viruses are the most common cause of hepatitis, it can also occur due to alcohol consumption, usage of certain medications and as an autoimmune disorder The types of viral hepatitis is named after the viral pathogen causing the symptoms and below are details of the most common types.
A person can contract Hepatitis A when they consume food or water that is contaminated with the virus called HAV and by contact with affected individuals. It is also spread through sexual contact with a person who has the virus. Although hepatitis A can cause a lot of discomfort, the inflammation of the liver is not chronic and does not result in any life threatening problems. People who contract this disease often have a full recovery in two months. It is recommended that kids and adults at risk of the disease get the hepatitis A vaccination and practice good hygiene at all times.
The symptoms for Hepatitis A appear almost immediately. They include fever, loss of appetite, dark urine, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
Hepatitis A does not have a prescribed treatment and the symptoms usually subside on their own. However, to help alleviate the symptoms it is recommended that you drink lots of water, avoid alcohol and maintain a healthy diet.
Hepatitis B is spread by the virus HBV during the exchange of body fluids like blood, semen and vaginal secretions. It is also known as a sexually transmitted disease (STD). It is also transmitted from affected mother to child during birth. The virus can also be transmitted by injecting drugs or sharing drug needles with affected individuals/ asymptomatic carriers. Hepatitis B can be prevented by vaccines that are safe, available and effective
Initial stages of infection are not characterised by symptoms, individuals experience episodes of acute illness for several weeks with symptoms including jaundice, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain with some cases having potential to develop acute liver failure, which can lead to death. Hepatitis B infection can cause chronic liver infection which can lead to cirrhosis (a scarring of the liver) or liver cancer.
If you notice any symptoms of Hepatitis B, it is advisable to visit the doctor immediately. The symptoms are worse for people over the age of 60.
If you believe you have contracted the Hepatitis B virus, consult with your doctor immediately. If you have not received the vaccination, there is a possibility to prevent the infection with immune globulin which are antibodies that attack the HBV virus.
In addition to this there are antiviral tablets that can be prescribed to treat Hepatitis B but in more serious cases, you may also require a liver transplant.
Hepatitis C is caused by the HCV virus and can cause acute and chronic liver disease with variable severity. It is a leading cause of liver cancer. Hepatitis C is a blood borne virus it can spread through unsafe injection practices, transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products, and sexual practices that lead to exposure to blood.
Unlike Hepatitis A and B, there is no vaccination for Hepatitis C so it is important to take personal precautions to ensure that you don’t contract the disease. Blood banks test for Hepatitis C before a blood transfusion to reduce the risk of the virus spreading. This is the most common type of Hepatitis because it is highly contagious.
Research shows that 80 % of people who have Hepatitis C, don’t experience any symptoms. However, some people may face mild symptoms which include loss of appetite, joint pain and muscle aches. It could take as long as 2 weeks to 6 months for the symptoms to appear.
The acutely symptomatic may exhibit fever, fatigue, decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, grey-coloured faeces, joint pain and jaundice (yellowing of skin and the whites of the eyes).
Treatment for Hepatitis C is not a requirement for everybody because in some their normal immune response is enough to clear the infection. During this period, the doctor will monitor your liver at regular intervals with blood tests. Treatment is given to people who have chronic/ persistent infections. Previous Hepatitis C treatments included vaccinations for 48 weeks, but in recent years, medications to treat this viral infection have improved and have far fewer side effects.
The three types of Hepatitis are caused by different viruses that can either be acute, which lasts for less than 6 months or chronic, which is more debilitating. The best way to prevent Hepatitis is to practice proper personal hygiene and maintain a healthy lifestyle with exercise and healthy eating habits. It is also recommended that you get a master health checkup at least once a year to identify symptoms or rule out any underlying health issues. Neuberg Diagnostics is a world-class diagnostics lab that offers numerous preventive health check-up packages to suit your specific needs.