Hepatitis can be a scary word. Usually we don’t’ really know what is meant by it. It can be complicated and the treatment is expensive. But we hear of many who are getting sick and some even dying from this condition. But is there a concern for you between Hepatitis A, B, or C.
I am asked daily why so many letters are given in Hepatitis? Did something go wrong? Is B worse than A? How would someone get Hepatitis? Can I prevent the disease? These questions and more will be answered today.
What is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis, in a simple term, means inflammation of the liver. There are several causes that can be associated with this disease. They could be a result of a virus or something else. When a virus is the cause, it is called viral hepatitis. But besides a Hepatitis virus, other causes can include: alcohol, certain medications and drugs, chemicals, auto-immune disorders and other causes.
There are several different types of viruses that are classified under viral hepatitis. Each is different, but the symptoms can be relatively the same. This virus often affects the liver. Some are temporarily and some can be lifelong.
1.) Type A
– This type of virus is transmitted via fecal to oral routes
– Often seen in very crowded areas and especially those with poor sanitation
– A large risk after natural disasters where water and foods have become contaminated.
– The life expectancy is rather normal, except in serious conditions
2.) Type B
– Transmitted through blood, including blood products, sexual contact, saliva, semen, and vaginal secretions
– Mother’s can pass to their children during delivery.
– Is one of the less common viruses.
– Is more common in health care workers
– Immunizations through a series of shots are available.
3.) Type C
– Transmitted through blood, blood products, tattoos and sexual activity.
– More than half of those who get this type do so through IV drug use.
– This is the most often seen virus
– Can lead to liver damage called cirrhosis
4.) Type D
– Seen along with Hepatitis B.
– Therefore is usually rare
– Often seen in IV drug users
– This virus can cause liver cancer
5.) Type E
– Transmitted through contaminated water
– It is very rare.
– Only seen in disaster areas
6.) Type G
– Can be passed through touch.
– Does not really affect the liver
– Shows little harm
Symptoms of Hepatitis
Usually after initial contact, a change, due to the virus can be seen. The liver itself can enlarge or become painful. Many individuals will turn yellow, which is also called jaundice. Fever, chills, nausea, weakness, and many other symptoms can be seen initially or over time.
How to diagnosis Hepatitis
The key here is lifestyle and risk. IV drug use greatly increases your risk. When risk factors are present, then blood work can confirm or deny a virus contamination. But, liver biopsies and imaging can help to evaluate liver inflammation in the absence of virus.
Excess alcohol abuse can lead to damage of the liver. Since the liver processes or decontaminates the body, alcohol is broken down. In some cases, the actual cells of the liver become ineffective, change their size, and can even become fibrotic. Over time, with increasing alcohol consumption the liver can no longer completely form its job. In these cases, cirrhosis or liver damage ensues. Hepatitis from excess alcohol can be damaging and can cause countless risk factors including death.
Some diseases are called autoimmune. These diseases are often a mystery as to their cause. But, when referring to hepatitis, it is even more unusual. For some unknown reason, the body attacks its own liver. In mild cases, little to no damage is resulting. But in some cases, hepatitis can become complicated and liver transplants may be necessary.
Excess drug abuse is similar to Alcohol. Since a large number of drugs are broken down in the liver, excess drug use and medication use can damage the liver. Tylenol is a large example of this.
Remember, the liver is one of the most important organs of the body. Without it, like the heart, or having a single kidney, and more, life would be impossible. It is vitally important to protect your body by what you do to your body. If you are at risk for hepatitis, you need to see if you are affected and how bad. Sometimes, the sooner you know, the more you can do.