Digestive

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Hepatitis


Hepatitis is a disease that causes inflammation of the liver. It can be either acute (lasting less than six months) or chronic (lasting more than six months). Several viruses are known to cause hepatitis.

Common forms of viral hepatitis include: Hepatitis A: hepatitis A is a virus that causes liver disease. This form of hepatitis never leads to a chronic infection and usually has no complications. The liver usually heals from hepatitis A within two months. However, occasional deaths from hepatitis A have occurred due to massive liver infection. Hepatitis A can be prevented by vaccination. Hepatitis B: this form of hepatitis causes liver damage. Most people recover from the virus within six months, but sometimes the virus will cause a lifelong, chronic infection, resulting in serious liver damage. Once infected, a person can spread the virus even if he or she does not feel sick. Hepatitis B can be prevented by vaccination. Hepatitis C: one of the most common causes of liver disease in the UK, hepatitis C is the number one reason for liver transplant. At least 80% of patients with hepatitis C develop a chronic liver infection. It often does not show any symptoms. No vaccine is yet available to prevent hepatitis C. Viral hepatitis is often preventable. However, it is still considered a serious health risk because it can: Destroy liver tissue. Spread from person to person. Weaken the body's immune system. Cause the liver to fail. Cause liver cancer (hepatitis B and C). Cause death.


Cause & Risk


Hepatitis A A person can get hepatitis A from eating food or drinking water carrying the virus. Infected food is usually a problem in developing nations where poor sanitation is common. Hepatitis B Hepatitis B may be transmitted by: Having sex with an infected person. Sharing contaminated needles. Being in direct contact with infected blood. Getting needle-stick injuries. Mother to unborn child. Being in contact with an infected person's body fluids. Hepatitis C A person can get hepatitis C from: Sharing contaminated needles. Being in direct contact with infected blood. Getting needle-stick injuries. Having sex with an infected person (less common). Blood products are currently tested for hepatitis B and C in the UK, so it's unlikely that a person will get hepatitis from receiving blood products. However, blood transfusions or organ transplants before 1992 in the UK may have not been tested for hepatitis C. If you received a blood transfusion before this date, you may want to get tested for hepatitis c.


Symptoms

The most common symptoms of hepatitis include: Dark urine (hepatitis A, B, C) Stomach pain (hepatitis A, B, C) Yellow skin or eye whites (hepatitis A, B, C) Pale or clay-coloured stool (hepatitis A, B, C) Low-grade fever (hepatitis A, B, C) Loss of appetite (hepatitis A, B, C) Fatigue (hepatitis A, B, C) Feeling sick to the stomach (hepatitis A, B, C) Lack of nutrition (hepatitis A, B, C) Aching joints (hepatitis B) If you have any, or a combination of these symptoms, seek medical advice as soon as possible.


Diagnosis & Treatment


There are no treatments that will cure hepatitis A, other than to monitor carefully the liver's function. Hepatitis B, where chronic, can often be treated successfully. Interferon, lamivudine, adefovir and entecavir are all used to treat hepatitis B. For hepatitis C, some people (approximately 40 to 80%) respond to a combination of the medications peginterferon and ribavirin.


Further Information


Most people recover from acute hepatitis even though it may take several months for the liver to heal. To help improve your health and to help speed up recovery: Avoid alcohol. Have a healthy diet. If you feel sick, rest. Take any medicine prescribed for you. Check with your doctor before taking any new medication, including over-the-counter drugs, herbs and dietary supplements.


Recommended Links


http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Hepatitis/Pages/Introduction.aspx


For even more information and advice on Hepatitis A, B and C, click here: http://bit.ly/194Jpfs

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