Hepatitis results from an inflamed liver, and can result in liver cell damage and destruction. There are six main types of hepatitis:
- Hepatitis A – Usually
spread by fecal-oral contact, or fecal-infected food or water. Hepatitis A is
a particular concern in developing countries, when poor handwashing occurs, or
in child care centers where children are in diapers. It can be a concern to
adults traveling to areas where Hepatitis A is common. There is a vaccine for
- Hepatitis B – Occurs
through blood and body fluid exposure with individuals infected by Hepatitis
B. Exposure can occur through blood, semen, vaginal secretions or saliva.
There is a vaccine for Hepatitis B, and is commonly used in routine childhood
vaccinations. Children receive the first vaccine between birth and two months.
The second vaccine is given between one and four months, and the third vaccine
at six to 18 months.
- Hepatitis C – Transmission primarily occurs through contact with infected blood, or from sexual contact, or from an infected mother to her baby. Hepatitis C can lead to chronic liver disease. There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C. Those at risk should be checked regularly for Hepatitis C. Those at higher risk include:
- Children born to mothers with Hepatitis C;
- Those who have a blood clotting disorder and
received clotting factors before 1987;
- Children requiring dialysis for kidney failure;
- Individuals who received a blood transfusion before
- Those who participate in high-risk activities, such as IV drug use or unprotected sex.
- Hepatitis D – Hepatitis D
can only occur in the presence of Hepatitis B. Hepatitis D can occur at the
same time as the initial infection with Hepatitis B, or it can occur later in
life. Hepatitis D is rare because of the required infant vaccine.
- Hepatitis E – This form of
hepatitis is similar to Hepatitis A. This is usually seen in Third World
countries. There is no vaccine for Hepatitis E.
- Hepatitis G – This is a new
strain of hepatitis. Transmission is believed to occur through blood, and is
most commonly seen in those with clotting disorders, IV drug users, or
individuals requiring hemodialysis for renal failure.
Acute hepatitis may show the following symptoms:
- Flu-like reactions;
- Nausea and/or vomiting;
- Decreased appetite;
- Not feel well all over;
- Abdominal pain or discomfort;
- Joint pain;
- Sore muscles;
- Itchy red hives
- Jaundice (in advanced hepatitis)
Along with a complete medical history and exam, the following may be ordered:
- Liver function studies;
- Antibody studies;
- Cellular blood counts;
- Bleeding times;
- Chemicals in the body.
- Diagnostic imagine by ultrasound
- Liver biopsy
- Vaccine if available
- Eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of rest
- Anti-itch medications
- Avoiding alcohol and drugs
- Interferon drug therapy
- Frequent blood testing
- Liver transplantation
- Immunoglobulin antibodies given to those exposure to Hepatitis A or B
Source: Centers for Disease Control