When a virus infects your liver, it swells up causing reduced functionality. Having a swollen liver is not a good thing since it plays a key role in digesting the food you eat, energy storage and poison removal.
You could be infected with viral hepatitis and have absolutely no signs of infection. Or you might experience these symptoms:
- pale poop
- dark urine
- muscle aches
- stomach pain
- low grade fever
- loss of appetite
- tender/enlarged spleen
Hepatitis is brought to you acutely or chronically. Acute viral hepatitis short-term and usually goes away on its own. Whereas, the chronic variety generally lasts a lifetime, which can be treated with drugs.
Blood tests are available for determining if you have hepatitis and which type.
Hepatitis is not spread through casual contact, so shaking hands, hugging or kissing are all safe practices with an infected individual. There are 5 known types of viral hepatitis, the most common ones in the U.S. are A, B, and C.
Hepatitis A is spread primarily through feces contaminated food or water by an infected individual. This type usually goes away on its own over several weeks.
Your are at a higher risk of infection if:
- illicit drug users
- men with men sex
- day care outbreaks
- developing country travel
- live with or have sex with an infected person
Prevention includes hepatitis A vaccine, avoiding tap water while traveling and practice good hygiene and sanitation.
Hepatitis B is spread through infected blood, sex and childbirth. This type is brought to you acutely and chronically, and drug treatment is available depending on the situation.
Those in hepatitis B’s high risk category are:
- men with men sex
- health care workers
- multiple sex partners
- hemodialysis patients
- international travelers
- injection illicit drug users
- infants born to infected mothers
- live with or have sexual contact with an infected person
The hepatitis B vaccine offers the best protection. Reduce your risk of exposure with use of condoms and never share needles nor personal items, such as toothbrushes, razors, and nail clippers.
Hepatitis C is spread primarily through contact with infected blood, and less common through sexual contact and childbirth.
There is no vaccine for hepatitis C. Chronic hepatitis C is treated with pegylated interferon together with the antiviral drug ribavin. If acute hepatitis C does not resolve on its own within 2 to 3 months, drug treatment is recommended.
Highest exposure to the hepatitis C virus are illicit drug users who share needles. The best prevention and risk of reduction for this type of virus is by avoid sharing behaviors.
Hepatitis D is spread through contact with infected blood and it only occurs at the same time, or to those already infected, with hepatitis B. Therefore, anyone infected with hepatitis B is at risk for hepatitis D. Chronic hepatitis D is being treated with pegylated interferon.
Hepatitis E is spread through food or water contaminated by feces from an infected person. No vaccine is available and avoiding tap water during international travel is a key factor in reducing your risk of exposure. Hepatitis E usually resolves on its own over several weeks to months.
Major points overview of the 5 types of hepatitis to getting a grip on their signs, cause and exposure prevention:
- Vaccines are available for hepatitis A, B.
- No vaccines available for hepatitis C, D, E.
- Drugs are available to treat chronic hepatitis.
- Hepatitis B, C, and D can be seriously chronic.
- Hepatitis A and E usually resolve on their own.
- Reducing exposure to the viruses offers the best protection.
Needles are not made for sharing ~ don’t even think about it!