The Only Way Is To Get Tested

Hepatitis refers to an acute or chronic inflammation of the liver. The condition can progress to fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis or liver cancer. Hepatitis viruses are the most common cause of hepatitis in the world but other infections, toxic substances (e.g. alcohol, certain drugs), and autoimmune diseases can also cause hepatitis. It’s estimated that in 2015, 325 million people were living with chronic hepatitis worldwide. In the same year 1.34 million people died of hepatitis globally.

The most common types of viral hepatitis are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis D and Hepatitis E.

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What is Hepatitis?

Hepatitis refers to an acute or chronic inflammation of the liver. The condition can progress to fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis or liver cancer. Hepatitis viruses are the most common cause of hepatitis in the world but other infections, toxic substances (e.g. alcohol, certain drugs), and autoimmune diseases can also cause hepatitis. It’s estimated that in 2015, 325 million people were living with chronic hepatitis worldwide. In the same year 1.34 million people died of hepatitis globally.

The most common types of viral hepatitis are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis D and Hepatitis E.


Hepatitis A virus (HAV) is present in the faeces of infected persons and is most often transmitted through consumption of contaminated water or food. Certain sex practices can also spread HAV. Infections are in many cases mild, with most people making a full recovery and remaining immune from further HAV infections. However, HAV infections can also be severe and life threatening. Most people in areas of the world with poor sanitation have been infected with this virus. Safe and effective vaccines are available to prevent HAV.

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is transmitted through exposure to infective blood, semen, and other body fluids. HBV can be transmitted from infected mothers to infants at the time of birth or from family member to infant in early childhood. Transmission may also occur through transfusions of HBV-contaminated blood and blood products, contaminated injections during medical procedures, and through injection drug use. HBV also poses a risk to healthcare workers who sustain accidental needle stick injuries while caring for HBV positive patients. Safe and effective vaccines are available to prevent HBV.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is mostly transmitted through exposure to infective blood. This may happen through the transfusion of HCV-contaminated blood and blood products; contaminated injections during medical procedures, and through injection drug use. Sexual transmission is also possible, but is much less common. There is no vaccine for HCV.

Hepatitis D virus (HDV) infections occur only in those who are infected with HBV. The dual infection of HDV and HBV can result in a more serious disease and worse outcome. Hepatitis B vaccines provide protection from HDV infection.

Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is mostly transmitted through consumption of contaminated water or food. HEV is a common cause of hepatitis outbreaks in developing parts of the world and is increasingly recognized as an important cause of disease in developed countries. Safe and effective vaccines to prevent HEV infection have been developed but are not widely available.

What are the signs of viral hepatitis?

Some people with viral hepatitis have no signs of the infection, however

Symptoms include:

  • Jaundice, which is when the skin and whites of the eyes turn yellow
  • Low-grade fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dark-colored urine and pale bowel movements
  • Abdominal Pain

How is hepatitis diagnosed?

Diagnosis is based on the following;

  • Asking you questions about your health history
  • Doing a physical exam
  • Ordering some blood tests

Hepatitis infections are diagnosed with blood tests that look for parts of the virus or antibodies your body makes in response to the virus.

How is hepatitis treated?

The treatment for viral hepatitis depends on the type and stage of the infection. Over the last several years, excellent treatments for both hepatitis B and C have become available. More and improved treatments are being evaluated all the time.

Your primary care doctor should be able to provide adequate care. However, if you have severe hepatitis, you may require treatment by a hepatologist or gastroenterologist (specialists in diseases of the liver). Therapy is aimed at maintaining comfort, adequate nutritional balance and replacement of fluids.

How can I prevent viral hepatitis infection?

Below are the best methods for preventing the hepatitis viruses.

Hepatitis A &E prevention

  • Get vaccinated if travelling to a high risk area
  • Properly wash your hands following bathroom use and diaper changes, and before preparing or eating food.

Hepatitis B prevention

  • Get vaccinated.
  • Avoid sharing personal items, such as razors or toothbrushes
  • Avoid getting tattoos or body piercings from an unlicensed facility or in an informal setting.
  • Do not share needles or other equipment used to inject drugs, steroids, or cosmetic substances.
  • Do not use personal items that may have come into contact with an infected person's blood, such as razors, nail clippers, toothbrushes, or glucose monitors.
  • Do not get tattoos or body piercings from an unlicensed facility or in an informal setting.

The hepatitis B vaccine is the mainstay of hepatitis B prevention. WHO recommends that all infants receive the hepatitis B vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by 2 or 3 doses to complete the primary series. The complete vaccine series induces protective antibody levels in more than 95% of infants, children and young adults. Protection lasts at least 20 years and is probably lifelong. Limit sexual partners and use latex condoms to help lower your risk.

DO NOT share drug needles or other drug equipment (such as straws for snorting drugs)

Hepatitis C prevention

  • Avoid getting tattoos or body piercings from an unlicensed facility or in an informal setting.
  • Do not share needles or other equipment used to inject drugs, steroids, or cosmetic substances.
  • Do not use personal items that may have come into contact with an infected person's blood, such as razors, nail clippers, toothbrushes, or glucose monitors.

Hepatitis D prevention

Hepatitis B vaccines provide protection from HDV infection.

Also remember the following:

If you are a health care or public safety worker, always follow routine barrier precautions and safely handle needles and other sharp objects.

If you are pregnant, your doctor will test your blood for hepatitis B. If you are an infected mother, your baby should be given hepatitis B immune globulin (H-BIG) and the hepatitis B vaccine within 12 hours after birth. If you have chronic hepatitis B, make sure your babies get all of their hepatitis B shots in the first six months of life.

Visit our Health Hub at Nyaho Medical Centre to know your Hepatitis status and for your annual medical checkup. We’ll be happy to take your queries on 050-918-4482 or thehealthhub@nyahomedical.com

Reference

http://www.who.int/mediacentre...