Be aware of the facts to help prevent hepatitis
Viral hepatitis is inflammation of the liver caused by a virus. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it causes approximately 1.45 million deaths each year.
World Hepatitis Day is one of only four official disease-specific world health days. In 2010, WHO declared July 28 World Hepatitis Day.
There are five different hepatitis viruses: hepatitis A, B, C, D and E.
Hepatitis A infections stem from inadequate food sources and drinking water. This includes consuming raw fish that swam in contaminated water sources. To prevent it, practice good hygiene and sanitation processes. Typically, the body can combat this infection itself.
The most well-known of the hepatitis infections, you can contract hepatitis B through contact with blood and other bodily fluids. A mother can transfer the infection to her child through childbirth. Vaccines prevent infection of hepatitis B.
This form of hepatitis spreads through blood-to-blood contact; it is rarely transmitted through childbirth. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C. Treatment aims to eradicate the virus.
Hepatitis D, which spreads through infected blood, is only found in people who are already infected with hepatitis B. There is no antiviral therapy for hepatitis D.
You can contract hepatitis E by eating food or drinking water contaminated by the feces of an infected person. Hepatitis E is preventable through vaccinations; however, the vaccine isn’t widely available. There is no treatment for hepatitis E.
Symptoms of hepatitis
The most common symptoms of hepatitis include:
- Fever, usually mild.
- Loss of appetite.
- Muscle aches.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Stomach pain.
Other symptoms include:
- Dark urine.
- Feeling the need to itch.
If you experience one of these symptoms or come in contact with blood, fluids or drinking water that you believe is contaminated, seek the care of a doctor immediately. It is especially important to seek medical care if you see signs of hepatitis after traveling to another country. Going without treatment can lead to cirrhosis, which is a scarring of the liver. A quick visit to a walk-in clinic can determine if you are infected with hepatitis and provide necessary treatment. Proper vaccination can also prevent hepatitis.
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