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hep a

Hepatitis Causes and Prevention

hepatitis

Image is from National Hemophilia Foundation

Hepatitis means inflammation of a person’s liver cells due to an injury to the liver. There are different types of hepatitis you can get that can be determined through a laboratory test. Hepatitis can heal on its own without the need of treatment, but in some cases, treatment is necessary since the virus causes a chronic infection. The main types of hepatitis are A, B, C, D, and E. Hepatitis A, B, and C cause the most liver damage.

Hepatitis can be a symptom of another disease, and it is mainly a symptom of autoimmune diseases. The hepatitis is a disease that is mainly caused by a viral infection. Hepatitis often starts as an acute disease but can progress and become chronic if not detected early. The disease can cause liver cirrhosis, liver failure or liver cancer to the patient.

Causes of Hepatitis

Hepatitis can be caused by toxins from drugs, alcohol or other sources of toxins. It can also be caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites or an autoimmune disease where the body attacks the liver. However, the most known common cause of hepatitis is a virus.

Hepatitis A and E are short term viral infections that are mainly transmitted through water or food that is contaminated by human or animal waste. Other sources of these forms of hepatitis include under cooked food or raw food that has not been handled in a hygienic way.

Hepatitis B can be spread through having direct contact with infected blood. It can also be sexually transmitted or spread to a child during childbirth.

Hepatitis C can be spread through direct contact with infected blood. It is rare for the disease to be spread from mother to child during childbirth or during sexual intercourse.

Hepatitis D can also be spread through infected blood. However, you can only get hepatitis D if you were infected with hepatitis B. Those who are at the greatest risk of getting the infection include drug users since most share needles. Other at-risk groups include those who have unprotected sex with multiple partners.

Prevention

New cases of hepatitis have been significantly reduced through vaccinations. There are vaccines available for prevention of hepatitis A and B. the vaccinations are effective in reducing the number of infections in children as well as adults.

Currently, there is no vaccine for hepatitis D. however; the disease can be prevented once you get immunized for hepatitis B.

Babies who are delivered to mothers suffering from hepatitis B should get the vaccine within 12 hours of birth to prevent them from getting infections.

Other things that can be done to prevent infection include the following:

  • Washing your hands and encouraging other people to do the same with water and soap after changing a diaper, after coming from using the bathroom and before handling any food.
  • Avoid eating raw foods from unknown places and always drink bottled, boiled or chemically treated water.
  • Practice safe sex. Using condoms goes a long way in preventing the spread of the infection.
  • Do not share sharp objects or toothbrushes.
  • When performing first aid, always wear gloves.
  • Disinfect all blood spills and wear gloves when cleaning up any body fluids.
  • Seek regular prenatal care when you are pregnant.

To reduce the risk of getting a non-viral type of hepatitis, avoid taking excessive alcohol. Also, consult a physician before starting a new prescription and on taking supplements. Hepatitis is a disease that needs to be taken seriously as it can cause severe damage to your liver.

 

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Understanding Hepatitis A

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Image is from Travel Vaccination New York

Guidelines for Understanding Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious viral disease of the liver that can be transmitted up to 14 days before you show any symptoms yourself, as well as during your symptoms. Diagnosing the disease requires a medical blood test. The typical painful and depleting symptoms indicating Hepatitis A include:

Contagion Factors

Hepatitis can be transmitted through contact with foods that have been contaminated with exposure to a diseased person’s urine, fecal matter, and polluted with foods, water, ice and bodily fluids contaminated by a person with Hepatitis A. This can be avoided by being careful to never:

  • Eat fruits, vegetables, and any other foods that became contaminated during handling by infected workers,
  • Eat raw shellfish harvested from contaminated water,
  • Swallow contaminated ice,
  • Using shared hypodermic needles,
  • Unprotected sexual contact

Risk Factors are high for those residing with infected persons, traveling to areas with high concentrations of Hepatitis A and participating in sexual relations with an infected person.

Vaccine Immune Globulin

Getting vaccinated is your best defense against Hepatitis A. If you come in contact with someone with Hepatitis A, you should acquire the medication immune globulin within 2 weeks of exposure. Another defense is practicing good hygiene by washing your hands with soap and water after using the bathroom, before and after handling food or contact with soiled diapers and undergarments.

The vaccine is administered by your physician in doses and is urgently recommended for anyone who may have been or may be soon exposed to the hepatitis virus. This includes all of the At Risk for Contamination persons as above referenced, plus persons with blood clotting difficulties or diagnosed with a long-term liver disease.

While there is no set treatment for this strain of hepatitis, your physician will monitor you to determine that your liver is strengthening and healing. In healthy individuals, symptoms will cease in about sixty days. If the liver does not heal and deteriorates without the availability of treatment, the only recourse for the patient is to become a candidate for liver transplant, a stressful and serious procedure that is not always successful and requires prescribing of drugs affecting the auto- immune system, increasing the patient’s risk for other diseases. Fortunately, you can only become ill with Hepatitis A once if you have a healthy body to begin with, as your healthy body will build its own defense against a future infection.

Child Care Liver Disease Dangers

The disease can spread quickly in children’s day care centers. Workers could spread the virus if they don’t wash their hands thoroughly after changing each diaper. Washing their hands and putting dirty diapers in a covered diaper pail will help prevent Hepatitis A spreading into all age groups attended as well as all staff and personnel.

Children also spread the disease as well as similar ailments due to children not yet being well trained in safe hygiene in their toilet habits. Contamination can spread very fast through a day care center if the hygiene of children and staff is not strictly enforced and watch-dogged.

Resources for Families

There are resource agencies for the education and counseling of patients and their families pertaining to viral hepatitis. They include:

  • American Liver Foundation,
  • Hepatitis Foundation International,
  • Hepatitis Branch of the U. S. Center for Disease Control.

These agencies provide educational materials and group support assistance for family members as well as patients affected by Hepatitis A.

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