The United States celebrates the month of May as ‘Hepatitis Awareness Month’ and May 19th as ‘Hepatitis Testing Day’.
We at Doral Health & Wellness are making efforts to raise awareness & help you understand viral hepatitis better. Call us on 718-DORAL-800 to book a free information session about hepatitis.
What is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the liver. Although viral infection is the cause of all major types of hepatitis, there are other potential causes including heavy alcohol use, toxins, some medicines, and certain diseases.
The liver is the largest organ in the body responsible for many functions like the removal of toxins, digestion of food, maintaining blood sugar levels and much more. Hepatitis can lead to permanent liver damage and serious conditions like liver cancer. There are majorly five types of hepatitis- hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, hepatitis D and hepatitis E, but only variants A, B and C are common in the US.
CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) reports say ‘millions in the US are living with chronic viral hepatitis, and do not know they have the viruses.
- Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are leading causes of liver cancer in the United States.
- Getting tested is the only way to know if you have hepatitis A, hepatitis B or hepatitis C. (About 66% of people with hepatitis B are unaware of their infection and about 40% of people living with hepatitis C do not know they are infected.)
- Viral hepatitis is curable (hepatitis A & hepatitis B with vaccines, and hepatitis C with prescribed treatment).
- Hepatitis A is a liver infection and inflammation caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV).
- It spreads by:
- Consumption of contaminated food or water (most commonly),
- Through fecal-oral route
- Close person-to-person contacts (such as household or sexual contact with an infected person).
- Hepatitis A virus is found in the blood and stool of the infected person.
- Hepatitis A is the most common infection acquired during travel.
- Symptoms include
- Yellow skin or eyes (jaundice),
- Loss of appetite,
- Stomach problems like nausea and pain.
- Most children (below 6 years of age) are asymptomatic; however, they are very contagious and can spread the infection.
- Treatment for Hepatitis A infection includes rest, a balanced diet, and fluids.
- Hospitalization might be required for more severe cases but is exceedingly rare.
The best way to prevent hepatitis A is by being vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a chronic liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and it can lead to liver cirrhosis, liver cancer, and death. It spreads by:
- Sharing needles or syringes with an infected person
- Contact with blood from or open wounds on an infected person
- Sex with an infected person
- From an infected mother to child during birth
Symptoms may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea & Vomiting
- Abdominal pain
- Dark urine
- Joint pain
Long term hepatitis B infection can lead to serious health problems, including cirrhosis, liver cancer, and death.
Vaccination is the best way to prevent HBV infection and potential complications, including cancer.
Hepatitis C is a viral infection that can cause liver inflammation and damage. It is a blood-borne virus.
It spreads by:
Contact with blood or infected needles at work (examples-tattoos or body piercings)
Being born to a mother with hepatitis C
Have had more than one sex partner in the last 6 months or have a history of sexually transmitted disease
- Symptoms may include
- dark yellow urine
- yellowish eyes and skin (jaundice)
- feeling tired
- joint pain
- loss of appetite
- pain in your abdomen
There is no vaccine available for prevention of Hepatitis C.
The best way to prevent HCV infection is to avoid contact with contaminated blood and avoid high-risk behaviors including intravenous drug use and unprotected sex.
Early testing and treatment of hepatitis can lower your chances of developing complications. Call us at 718-367-2555 to book your appointment today.