Hepatitis means an inflammation of the liver. Inflammation causes painful, red swelling and occurs when tissues become injured or infected. The inflammation can cause organs to not function properly.
There are different kinds of hepatitis.
Hepatitis A usually gets better within a few weeks without treatment. Usually, getting lots of rest and avoiding alcohol will be sufficient, but if symptoms persist you should see a doctor.
Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are usually not treated unless they become chronic. If chronic hepatitis B or hepatitis C causes liver failure, a liver transplant may become necessary.
What are the different types of hepatitis?
Hepatitis A is contagious and is caused by a viral infection. It typically results in a mild illness lasting a few weeks, but some cases may be severe and persist for months. People contract hepatitis A by coming consuming a food or beverage contaminated by an infected person’s fecal matter. Hepatitis B is also a viral infection, and it can be mild or chronic. Chronic cases can lead to liver cancer or liver failure and be life-threatening. The hepatitis B virus is spread through contact with blood, body fluid, or open sores from someone with the virus. Finally, hepatitis C is also caused by a virus, and it can lead to serious liver damage. Most people who contract hepatitis C, which also spreads through blood or body fluids, experience a chronic infection, which leads to complications like liver cancer and cirrhosis if not treated.
How can a person prevent hepatitis?
You can prevent hepatitis A and B through vaccination, but there is no vaccine for Hepatitis C. You can avoid catching this virus by refraining from sharing needles with others or from having unprotected sex. Practicing safe sex, wearing gloves when cleaning up after others, and avoiding sharing chewing gum with others are also protective measures for hepetatis B. Additional preventive measures for hepatitis A include washing your hands and avoiding raw food or tap water if you travel to a place with poor sanitation.
How is hepatitis treated?
There is no medication or formal treatment for hepatitis A, but your doctor may monitor your liver health to ensure that you are healing. While you are sick, it is important to rest and avoid alcohol. For hepatitis B, it is important to get treated as soon as possible after exposure, so a doctor can administer a vaccination and a hepatitis B immune globulin shot to help your body fight the infection. Your infection may go away, but if it becomes chronic, you may have to take medications to treat it. There is no treatment for acute cases of hepatitis C, but if it becomes chronic, there are also medications available to treat it. Medication is usually successful at treating hepatitis C, but if it is not, you may need a liver transplant.
- “I felt extremely tired, and I had no appetite. I also began experiencing nausea and muscle pain without warning, and several days later, I had itchy skin and dark-colored urine. I had hepatitis A.”
- “When I had hepatitis B, I had stomach and joint pain, and I had fatigue that lasted for months. I had no appetite, and my skin started to look yellow.”
- “I started to experience dark urine, yellowing of the skin, and clay-colored poop, and I noticed that I felt tired all the time and had pretty severe stomach pain and nausea. My doctor told me I had hepatitis C.”