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HomeHealth EducationWhat You Have to Know About Viral Hepatitis

What You Have to Know About Viral Hepatitis

Medically reviewed by Ayanna Lewis, M.D.

July 28, 2022, is World Hepatitis Day.

Do you know that greater than half the folks dwelling with hepatitis don’t know they’ve it? We reached out to Ayanna Lewis, M.D., a gastroenterologist and member of HealthyWomen’s Ladies’s Well being Advisory Council, to seek out out what folks ought to learn about this viral an infection.

What’s viral hepatitis?

Viral hepatitis is a viral an infection that causes irritation and harm to the liver.

What are the various kinds of viral hepatitis? 

There are 5 widespread kinds of viral hepatitis. Most individuals have heard of hepatitis A, B and C — however there are additionally two others: hepatitis D and E.

  • Hepatitis A is discovered within the stool of an contaminated particular person and is most frequently unfold by means of contaminated meals or water.
  • Hepatitis B is transmitted by means of hepatitis B contaminated blood or different bodily fluids, reminiscent of semen.
  • Hepatitis C is unfold by means of publicity to hepatitis C-infected blood.
  • Hepatitis D solely happens in people who find themselves additionally contaminated with hepatitis B.
  • Hepatitis E is uncommon and is unfold by means of meals or water that has been contaminated by the virus present in an contaminated particular person’s stool.

Which kinds of hepatitis are the commonest?

Not surprisingly, the extra well-known kinds of hepatitis — A, B and C — are the commonest. Of the three, hepatitis C was the commonest in 2019.

What are the chance components for getting viral hepatitis?

The danger components for getting viral hepatitis are intently associated to the way it’s unfold. Hepatitis A spreads by consuming or consuming contaminated meals or water. Working or touring in international locations the place the virus is widespread which have poor meals security practices is a typical danger issue.

Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are each transmitted by means of contaminated blood. Frequent danger components for these varieties embrace sharing needles throughout IV drug use, having a job that exposes you to doubtlessly contaminated blood, or being born to an contaminated mom. Hepatitis B can be unfold by means of different bodily fluids reminiscent of semen. So, partaking in unprotected intercourse is a danger issue for hepatitis B.

What are the signs of viral hepatitis?

Hepatitis A signs embrace gastrointestinal issues like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, belly ache and lack of urge for food. Different potential signs are low-grade fever, fatigue, darkish urine, joint ache, jaundice (yellowing of the pores and skin and whites of the eyes), clay-colored stool or intense itching. Hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections typically don’t have any signs, however when signs do seem, they’re just like these of hepatitis A.

As a result of hepatitis infections typically don’t have any signs, you’ll be able to have them for years with out realizing. This could result in disastrous penalties, reminiscent of cirrhosis, which is extreme liver illness, and even liver most cancers.

What are the therapies for viral hepatitis?

Therapy for viral hepatitis varies by the kind and stage of the an infection. Hepatitis A infections often go away on their very own inside two months. It is very important get loads of relaxation, hydration and good diet when therapeutic. In distinction, hepatitis B and hepatitis C could grow to be power situations lasting six months or extra. These can result in liver illness. If caught inside 12 hours of publicity, hepatitis B could be handled with an injection of immunoglobulin (an antibody). The hepatitis B vaccine also needs to be given if the particular person has not been vaccinated. Individuals with power infections might have remedy for the remainder of their lives to scale back the dangers of creating liver illness and infecting others. Nonetheless, within the final decade, there have been thrilling breakthroughs within the remedy of hepatitis C infections utilizing direct-acting antiviral medicine, which may treatment the an infection inside 8-12 weeks with fewer uncomfortable side effects than the older therapies.

Is there a vaccine for hepatitis?

Sadly, there aren’t any vaccines for hepatitis C, D or E. Nonetheless, protected and extremely efficient vaccines that defend in opposition to hepatitis A and hepatitis B do exist, and they’re part of the CDC’s advisable youngster and adolescent immunization schedule. Adults who didn’t get vaccinated throughout childhood can also get the vaccines. For steering on when it could be applicable, see the CDC’s grownup immunization schedule and seek the advice of your major care supplier.

What’s a hepatitis flare-up and what are the therapies, if any?

A hepatitis flare-up most frequently refers to sufferers with power hepatitis B infections who expertise a sudden improve in liver irritation. That is often the results of a change within the physique’s immune defenses in opposition to hepatitis B. An instance is reactivation of hepatitis attributable to drugs that suppress the immune system, reminiscent of chemotherapy, antirejection medicine and corticosteroids. Relying on the reason for the flare-up, antiviral therapies could be used for remedy. Within the case of autoimmune hepatitis, flare-ups might be a results of an overactive immune response. In these circumstances, drugs that suppress the immune system could also be wanted.

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