What is hepatitis?
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that can affect anyone. The condition can self-limiting (non-serious) to potentially life-threatening by progressing to serious health issues such as liver cancer. Hepatitis virus is the most common cause of hepatitis in the world but other infections, toxic substances (alcohol and other drugs), and autoimmune diseases can also cause hepatitis.
What types of hepatitis are there?
There are five main hepatitis viruses: types A, B, C, D, and E. These five types are of greatest concern because of the burden of illness and the potential for epidemic spread. In particular, types B and C lead to chronic disease in hundreds of millions of people. It is estimated that around 400 million people are infected with hepatitis globally.
How do people get hepatitis?
Hep A and E are typically linked to contaminated food and water. Hep B, C, and D usually occur as a result of contact with infected bodily fluids. The most common modes of transmission of these viruses include coming in contact with infected blood, unclean tattoo/piercing equipment, transmission from mother to baby at birth, family member to child, and also by sexual contact.
What are the signs and symptoms?
An infection may occur with little to no signs however, common symptoms include dark urine, extrema fatigue, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and sore that form around the mouth. One of the biggest problems facing the hepatitis epidemic is that around 90% of those that have contracted hepatitis don’t know they have it therefore, spreading the infection to others.
How can I prevent hep viruses?
First, you should see your doctor or go to a local health center and request a Hepatitis test. Testing is done through a simple blood test. Second, use caution and be proactive by practicing safe sex, and don’t share bodily fluids with others (this includes oral sex, sharing drinks, and kissing).
A lot has been done over the years to help prevent and treat hepatitis. There are now vaccines for both hepatitis A and B. If you have not received these vaccines, talk to your doctor. Hepatitis C is now more easily treated with life-long medications, and hepatitis D and E are rarer.
World Hepatitis Day takes place on Sunday, July 28 so let’s be proactive and get tested. For more information about hepatitis, testing, or vaccinations against the virus, speak with your doctor or give us a call at 217-788-2300 and we will be happy to schedule an appointment with one of our providers.