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.
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.