World Hepatitis Day
Hepatitis, in all forms, can be scary. You may think you already know everything about this disease; however, hepatitis doesn’t just come with a list of symptoms or prescribed medications. Many people living with hepatitis also face social stigmas after diagnosis. Misinformation and assumptions can hurt people, and it’s important to know the facts before judging. In honor of World Hepatitis Day (July 28), we’re discussing what this disease is and what a diagnosis may mean. Help fight the stigma!
Hepatitis: What Is It?
Hepatitis is the inflammation of your liver and often results in other severe symptoms. This disease is often caused by a viral infection. However, it can also be the result of autoimmune conditions or the overuse of certain substances. Some examples include:
Common symptoms can be flu-like, dark urine, pale stool, abdominal pain and jaundice (the yellowing of one’s eyes and skin).
Types Of Hepatitis
There are five types of this viral infection: A, B, C, D and E.
Hepatitis A (HAV) is preventable by a vaccine. It is often a short-term illness and does not require medical attention if mild. HAV is normally transmitted when consuming contaminated food and drink.
Hepatitis B (HBV) can also be vaccinated against. While HBV can be temporary, you can develop chronic HBV. Chronic HBV will require long-term monitoring and medication. HBV is transmitted through bodily fluids or from an infected mother to the child. This can include contaminated medical equipment, syringes/needles and sexual contact.
Hepatitis C (HCV) does not currently have a vaccine and can lead to serious illnesses like liver cancer and cirrhosis of the liver. While HCV can resolve itself, most cases are chronic and require medical treatment. Transmission is normally through contaminated needles and syringes.
Hepatitis D (HDV) does not currently have a vaccine and only occurs in people already infected with HBV. This type can be short-term or chronic, leading to potentially fatal health conditions. HDV is transmitted through contaminated bodily fluids. The best preventative care is the Hepatitis B vaccine.
Hepatitis E (HEV) does not currently have a vaccine available in the United States. However, most cases are short-term and not serious. HEV is also not common in developed countries like the United States. Most cases are transmitted by consuming contaminated water or undercooked meats.
The Silent Epidemic
HBV and HCV are highly infectious and live in millions of people unknowingly. These types are also the most deadly. Chronic HBV and chronic HCV hit vulnerable communities, such as the immunocompromised, people who inject drugs and groups living in poor health conditions. People infected and unaware can develop serious health complications and continue passing on the disease.
Seeing a medical professional for diagnosis and preventive measures are your best defenses against this viral infection. While vaccination is impossible for most types, it’s important to discuss with a medical professional any symptoms you may be experiencing or ways to limit contact with this virus. Some methods you could use to avoid infection include:
- Not sharing food or drinks.
- Do not get body piercings or tattoos from unlicensed sources.
- Avoid sharing personal items such as needles, toothbrushes and razors.
- Ensure you are getting water from safe sources and cooking meat properly.
If you would like to discuss diagnosis and prevention options, Comanche County Memorial Hospital offers our Find A Provider service. Schedule with one of our professional physicians to help fight the stigma of testing and treatment today.
Our Lawton Community Health Center also offers pediatric immunization options.
The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.
Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.
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World Hepatitis Alliance. https://www.worldhepatitisalliance.org/what-viral-hepatitis-0