What is Hepatitis?
Many people have heard of hepatitis. While many people know that it can be a devastating illness for people who have it, few people know a lot about the disease. Even though they have heard of the disease, many people still wonder what is hepatitis and how do I avoid it? The word hepatitis is derived from the Greek words meaning “liver” and “inflammation.” So in the simplest terms, hepatitis is a disease that involves inflammation of the liver.
The Different types of Hepatitis
Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, hepatitis D and hepatitis E are the five types of this disease. People who have hepatitis A, the most common type of the disease, contract it from consuming infected water or food. The Hepa A virus has the ability to infect foods and beverages. The incubation period in the liver is short. The disease spreads from person to person through close contact with an infected individual.
There is no treatment for Hepatitis A but most people recover with sufficient rest. Good personal hygiene and avoiding the consumption of infected food and drinks is the best way to avoid contracting this form of the disease. This includes washing the hands before every meal.
Hepatitis B is transmitted through sexual contact. The Hepatitis B virus may also be transmitted through contact with blood infected with the virus. A new mother may transmit the virus to an infant during breastfeeding. This virus damages the liver and can lead to cancer. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, pain in the stomach, fatigue, fever, and jaundice. The Hepatitis B vaccine can protect individuals from contracting this virus.
Hepatitis C is transmitted through direct contact with infected blood. This type of hepatitis attacks the liver causing inflammation. Infected individuals who fail to get treatment can develop chronic liver disease. This disease often is difficult to diagnose in its initial stages. Early detection and treatment can prevent more serious health problems.
Individuals may contract hepatitis D by using an infected needle, through unprotected sex with an infected person or through direct contact with blood infected with the virus. A person must have hepatitis B to contract hepatitis D. This virus causes the liver to become inflamed.
Individuals contract hepatitis E by consuming water containing the virus. This disease is transmitted through oral or anal sex. The virus causes temporary liver inflammation.
Identifying the Symptoms of Hepatitis
Jaundice is the most obvious symptom of this disease. An infected person’s eyes and skin turn yellow. Liver damage causes an accumulation of bilirubin in the blood, which then seeps into other tissues in the body. This chemical is responsible for making the skin and eyes yellow.
Additional symptoms of liver damage are fatigue and weakness. People with hepatitis may be easily frustrated and feel tired no matter how much sleep they get
People with hepatitis often lose their appetite. This symptom is temporary but when it goes away the individual may experience nausea and vomiting.
People with this disease may have achy muscles and joints. The pain may last for days or weeks, depending on the patient. These individuals have difficulty moving because they are constantly in pain.
Hepatitis A can lead to lower than normal glucose levels. People with this form of the virus should monitor their blood sugar regularly. Insufficient blood glucose leads to other problems for individuals who are already weakened by the disease.
One common symptom of hepatitis is swollen lymph nodes. The nodes in the armpits, groin, and neck often become swollen in a person suffering from hepatitis. Any individual who notices swollen lymph nodes in these areas of the body should seek medical advice from a licensed physician to determine the exact cause of the swelling.
How to Prevent the Spread of Hepatitis
There are things individuals can do to avoid contracting this disease from an infected individual. Understanding how the disease spreads from one person to another makes it easier to avoid contracting hepatitis.
Practicing good personal hygiene is the best and most effective thing anyone can do to prevent the spread of this dangerous virus. Make sure you put your health first and do everything possible to avoid crowded locations for extended periods. Always wash your hands after using the toilet. Consuming food with dirty hands makes anyone vulnerable to contracting a variety of viruses, including hepatitis.
Hepatitis is often spread through the consumption of water contaminated with the virus. Make sure to always drink clean water. When traveling in foreign locations, purchase and consume bottled water to avoid contamination.
If someone in your household has hepatitis, it is important to clean any clothing, bedding and towels the infected person comes into contact with to avoid spreading the disease to other people in the house.
Many people contract this disease by using a needle contaminated with the virus, which is why you should never use a dirty needle for any reason. Anytime you undergo a medical procedure that requires injection with a needle, verify that the needle has never been used before to reduce the risk of contracting a disease from someone who is ill.
Hepatitis can be transmitted from a sick individual to a healthy individual during unprotected sex, similar to the AIDS virus. Individuals should learn about the dangers of unprotected sex at an early age and always remember to practice abstinence or use a condom to avoid contracting a dangerous virus.
Individuals may see a physician to receive a hepatitis A or hepatitis B vaccination. Experts recommend the hepatitis B vaccination for all individuals who work in companies with lots of employees, or who have existing liver problems or who travel frequently for work or pleasure.