All About Hepatitis

All you need to know about Hepatitis

Worldwide 400 million people are living with hepatitis B or C. Every year 1.4 million people die from viral hepatitis and yet all of these deaths could be prevented. Nigeria is not spared with an estimated prevalence of 10-15%. Yesterday was World hepatitis day, let’s get informed and tested.

Discovering diseases is necessary. When a disease is discovered, there will be a prevention and cure. It will be very good for us to prevent disease than waiting for it to penetrate into our bodies. You don’t know about Hepatitis? Read below:

Definition

A disease characterized by inflammation of the liver. The condition can be self-limiting or 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.

Types

There are 5 main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E and 2 other not so discussed types but should be known, especially the Alcohol Hepatitis.

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 infected-HBV 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 transfusions 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.

Alcoholic hepatitis is hepatitis due to excessive intake of alcohol. It is usually found in association with fatty liver, an early stage of alcoholic liver disease, and may contribute to the progression of fibrosis, leading to cirrhosis.

Autoimmune hepatitis is a chronic—or long lasting—disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the normal components, or cells, of the liver and causes inflammation and liver damage.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis include jaundice, ascites (fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity), fatigue and hepatic encephalopathy (brain dysfunction due to liver failure).

Causes

Hepatitis A and E are typically caused by ingestion of contaminated food or water.

Hepatitis B, C and D usually occur as a result of parenteral contact with infected body fluids. Common modes of transmission for these viruses include receipt of contaminated blood or blood products, invasive medical procedures using contaminated equipment.

Hepatitis B transmission from mother to baby at birth, from family member to child, and also by sexual contact.

Alcohol Hepatitis as the name implies is due to excessive alcohol intake

Prevention

Hepatitis AImmunization of children (1-18 years of age) consists of two or three doses of the vaccine. Adults need a booster dose six to 12 months following the initial dose of vaccine. The vaccine is thought to be effective for 15–20 years or more.

Hepatitis BSafe and effective vaccines provide protection against hepatitis B for 15 years and possibly much longer. Currently, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all newborns and individuals up to 18 years of age and adult participating at risk of infection be vaccinated. Three injections over a six to 12 month period are required to provide full protection.

In General:

Stay Clean: Wash your hands after going to the bathroom and before fixing food or eating.

Use latex condoms, which may lower the risk of transmission.

Get vaccinated

Avoid tap water when traveling to certain countries or regions.

Don’t share drug needles.

Don’t share personal items—such as toothbrushes, razors and nail clippers—with an infected person.

Cure

Bed rest, abstaining from alcohol, and taking medication to help relieve symptoms. Most people who have hepatitis A and E get well on their own after a few weeks.

Hepatitis B is treated with drugs, such as lamivudine and adefovir dipivoxil. Hepatitis C is treated with a combination of peginterferon and ribovarin.

Liver transplant of hepatitis B or C, or D-caused liver failure.

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