April 18, 2016 195
In most of the cases Hepatitis is caused by a virus. Estimated more than 240 million people suffer from chronical Hepatitis B, another 184 million show antibodies for Hepatitis C. For around 7 percent the reason for Hepatitis is unknown and is called Hepatitis F.
While the transmission for Hepatitis A and E occurs via contaminated food or drinking water, it is transmitted by blood or mucous membrane contact with infected blood, sperm or vaginal fluids for the other types.
Hepatitis Type A:
- Hepatitis Type A is mainly transmitted by faecal-oral contact. 30 % of the cases occur during travels in countries with low hygiene standards in the food sector.
Hepatitis Type B:
- An infection with Hepatitis Type B can happen by the transmission of any bodies liquid like blood, sperm, tears, saliva, brain liquid, urine, gastric juice and breast milk. A very small amount of blood is enough for an infection.
Hepatitis Type C:
- Hepatitis Type C virus can be found in almost all bodies liquids. For this Type, blood is the main transmitter and is common among drug addicts.
Hepatitis Type D:
- This Type of Hepatitis can also exist together with Hepatitis Type B and is transmitted by sperm and blood.
Hepatitis Type E:
- Hepatitis Type E is well spread in Africa and Asia. The transmission happens via drinking water or food, whereas a human-to-human transmission is seldom seen.
Hepatitis comes in three stages. 1) Initial stage, 2) Jaundice stage and 3) Recovery stage.
- The initial stage is characterized by unspecific indications of an inflammation of the liver. Symptoms like nausea, vomiting, anorexia, fever, stomach pain as well as pain of the muscles and joints are common but very from patient to patient. Rarely did the people concerned experience a change in their sense of smell and taste.
- After two to eight weeks the jaundice stage starts. Now the hepatitis shows symptoms like pressure pain below the right costal arch, because of the swollen liver. Yellowing of the skin and the eyeball, dark coloration of urine or discoloration of stool and itchiness arise.
The yellowing is the result of a substance called bilirubin which arises because of the decrease of red blood cells and can´t be sufficiently disassembled.
The itchiness is caused by bile acid deposition in the skin. Hepatitis hinders excretion of bile acid through the liver, thus increasing its concentration and thus resulting in deposition into the skin.
- The recovery stage is characterized by occasional weakness, tiredness and exhaustion and can stay for a couple of months.
The five most common types of viral hepatitis can be transmitted in different ways. High risk entities are:
- Drug addicts, which are using the same injection
- Receiver of blood transfusion (low risk since the launch of special blood tests for blood donators)
- Individuals who suffer from haemophilia
- Children with a Hepatitis Type B positive mother
- Dialysis patients
- Medical personnel
An inflammation of the liver can occur because of viruses, bacteria, parasites, toxins, medicines or autoimmune diseases. The whole liver or only limited areas of the liver can be affected. The inflammation harms the cells of the liver so much that its function as the organ of detoxification and metabolism is affected. Long lasting harm to the liver cells can result in scar tissue, called liver cirrhosis.
Whereas the viral hepatitis is caused by the infection of the liver with viruses, the toxic hepatitis is most likely caused by a misuse of alcohol. Heavy consumption of alcohol harms the liver and can lead to fat storage in the liver, inflammation and liver cirrhosis. A non-alcoholic fatty liver hepatitis is the result of obesity and diabetes mellitus.
Also the overdose of liver harming medicine like paracetamol or different kinds of narcotic gas can lead to a toxic hepatitis.
Like it is for all kind of diseases, prevention is the best measure to avoid hepatitis. It starts with vaccination, avoidance of unhygienic nutrition as well as alcohol and other liver harming drugs, avoiding contact with infected persons and leading a healthy lifestyle.
But even the healthiest lifestyle cannot guarantee us to be safe from hepatitis. That’s why yearly health screenings become more and more important. For good reason, because detected early hepatitis can be dammed up by stopping the viruses from reproducing. By waiting too long, a liver transplantation can be the only way to safe one´s life.
So how about yourself? Are you at risk living in a high-risk area, misusing alcohol or eating lots of fatty food? Get yourself screened to be sure! Better safe than sorry!
by Jens Behrensen
German fitness addict sharing my experience and trying to bring a healthier lifestyle to people. View all articles by Jens Behrensen.