National Hepatitis Awareness MonthMay 3, 2018
National Hepatitis Awareness Month
May is National Hepatitis Awareness Month. It is also National Stroke Awareness Month. There are five types of hepatitis that a person can have. Hundreds of millions of people all over the world have at least one form of hepatitis.
What is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis is the ongoing inflammation of the tissue of the liver. This is a viral disease that damages the liver from acute, chronic, to even the spread of liver cancer. Hepatitis is usually transferred via blood or bodily secretions either by intravenous drug use, intercourse, or breastfeeding. There is even a form of autoimmune hepatitis.
Hepatitis A is found in contaminated food, water, or by someone who already has the infection. The Mayo Clinic describes the symptoms of fatigue, vomiting, nausea, loss of appetite, fever, joint pain, dark urine, yellowish skin, intense itching, clay colored bowel movements, and abdominal pain.
Hepatitis A can come from eating food or water that has sewage or fluids from using the bathroom contaminating it. The risk factors include if you work with children, live with someone who has hepatitis A , HIV positive, or someone with hemophilia, or even using intravenous drugs.
Hepatitis A can be treated, and is not a long lasting disease. This virus will not affect the liver for a long period of time. Most of the time it can be prevented through two doses of vaccinations. Vaccinations are imperative, they protect individuals from disease and since they are a preemptive measure, there is no cost associated with medical treatment after the vaccine.
Hepatitis B is vastly more intense than hep A. Hepatitis B can last over six months with children the most likely to have chronic issues. The symptoms are the same as hepatitis A. If you think you may have any of these symptoms, or feel as if you need to see a doctor, please consult your primary care physician.
Hepatitis B can be passed from a mother to her infant during childbirth, but usually the vaccine can be administered to the child to keep them safe. It is recommended that everyone gets the hepatitis B vaccine.
Complications from hepatitis B include liver cancer, liver failure, cirrhosis of the liver, and inflammation of blood vessels and kidneys. Helpful tips to avoid contracting hepatitis B include using sterile needles if engaging in drug use, wearing a condom, being safe about tattoos and piercings, and knowing if you are traveling to a place where hepatitis B is common.
There is not a recommended treatment for hepatitis B because it will likely go away on its own if it is acute. If the infection is persistently long lasting, antiviral medication and interferon injections may be prescribed. Someone who has a badly damaged liver may be put on the list for a liver donation. Organ donation is very difficult to receive, especially with wait times being years. While they are waiting the viral disease is constantly deteriorating the body. Unfortunately, someone who has persistent hepatitis will not be high on the list to receive an organ.
Hepatitis C is a chronic infection that degenerates the liver and leads to cirrhosis. Anthony Kiedis, Pamela Anderson, Naomi Judd, Gregg Allman, Steven Tyler, Keith Richards, and Phil Lesh have all been diagnosed with hepatitis C. The symptoms include itchy skin, dark urine, weight loss, fatigue, bleeding and bruising easily, and jaundice.
Fortunately, in around 97% of cases who seek out treatment, a new combination of drugs promises to cure hepatitis C. When used together, Sovaldi, ribavirin, and interferon shots cured people of long-lasting hepatitis C infections. Other medications include Daklinza, Zepatier, Mavyret, Harvoni, and Technivie. Do you know anyone who has been cured?
Hepatitis D has fewer than 200,000 cases each year. Hepatitis D is closely related to hepatitis B. If you get the vaccine protecting you from hepatitis B, you are also protected from hepatitis D. Hep D affects people usually in the Mediterranean, Middle East, and Sub-Saharan areas.
Hepatitis E is contracted through fecal-to oral transmission. Hep E is prevalent in China and India. Hepatitis E may go away on its own, but it is likely chronic and severe in people with immunosuppressed bodies. About 20% of people with this disease will die. Hepatitis E affects the pancreas, weakens limbs, and can cause a low blood platelet count.
The large takeaway from this article is that everyone should have a chance to be vaccinated. Vaccines are proven to stop the spread of diseases, and lessen the costs of associated medical care. Are you vaccinated against hepatitis?
Did you know that May is National Hepatitis Awareness Month? Do you know anyone who has or has had hepatitis? Do you feel as though this article has raised your awareness about the different types of hepatitis? Comment below.