Many people with hepatitis experience either mild symptoms or none at all. The initial phase of hepatitis is called the acute phase.
The symptoms are like a mild flu and may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Mild fever
- Muscle or joint aches
- Slight abdominal pain
- Dark urine
- Light-coloured stools
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
If you are experiencing many of these symptoms, please see your doctor at your local urban health clinic and get tested.
Tests and Diagnosis and Treatment
Hepatitis A Treatment - There is no treatment specifically for hepatitis A. The doctor will advise the patient to abstain from alcohol and drugs during the recovery. The vast majority of patients with hepatitis A will recover spontaneously.
Hepatitis B Treatment - There is no treatment for “acute” hepatitis B as most adults will naturally clear the virus. Treatment is available for “chronic” hepatitis B. Your doctor will advise which method is right for you.
Hepatitis C Treatment – Hepatitis C infection is treated with antiviral medications intended to clear the virus from your body. Your doctor may recommend a combination of medications.
Hepatitis D Treatment - There is no specific treatment for hepatitis D.
Hepatitis E Treatment – There is no treatment for hepatitis E. Hepatitis E is caused by a virus which means antibiotics are of no value in the treatment of the infection. Treatment of hepatitis E infection is supportive and involves bed rest and fluid replacement.
Remember: If you think you may have hepatitis it is important to see your doctor at your local urban health clinic and get tested.
How is Hepatitis A Spread?
A person can get hepatitis A from:
- Eating food or drinking water carrying the virus. (Infected food and water is usually a problem in developing nations where poor sanitation is common).
Prevention of Hepatitis A
- Wash your hands with soap after going to the toilet
- Only consume food that have just been cooked
- Only drink commercially bottled water, or boiled water if you're unsure of water sanitation
- Only eat fruits that you can peel if you are somewhere where sanitation is unreliable
- Only eat raw vegetables if you are sure they have been cleaned/disinfected thoroughly
- Get a vaccine for hepatitis A if you live or travel to places where hepatitis may be endemic.
Hepatitis B - Hepatitis B is a viral infection that causes liver inflammation and can lead to serious illness or death. It is spread through unsafe sex and other activities where blood or body fluids are exchanged. It can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby. Once infected, a person can spread the virus even if he or she does not feel sick. Immunisation is the best way to reduce the risk of infection.
Most people recover from the virus within six months, but sometimes the virus will cause a lifelong, chronic infection, possibly resulting in serious liver damage.
How is Hepatitis B Spread?
Hepatitis B may be transmitted by:
- Having sex with an infected person.
- Sharing dirty needles.
- Being in direct contact with infected blood.
- Getting needle stick injuries.
- Mother to unborn child.
- Being in contact with an infected person's body fluids.
Prevention of Hepatitis B
- Tell the partner if you are a carrier, ask your partner if they are a carrier
- Practice safe sex
- Only use clean syringes that have not been used by anyone else
- Do not share toothbrushes, razors, or manicure instruments
- Have a hepatitis B series of shots if you are at risk
- Only allow well-sterilized skin perforating equipment (tattoo, acupuncture, etc.).
Hepatitis C - Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that causes inflammation of the liver. It is commonly spread through sharing unsterile needles, syringes and other injecting drug equipment. There is currently no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C infection, but treatment is effective for some people. When the initial infection lasts for more than six months, it is called chronic hepatitis C, which may lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Hepatitis C is considered to be among the most serious of the hepatitis viruses.
Many people may not feel ill when first infected with hepatitis C while others may find their urine becomes dark, and their eyes and skin turn yellow (this is known as jaundice), or they may experience a minor flu-like illness. These symptoms may disappear within a few weeks, but this does not necessarily mean that the infection has been cleared.
How is Hepatitis C Spread?
Hepatitis C may be transmitted by:
- Tattoo and body piercing equipment that has not been properly cleaned, disinfected or sterilised
- Sharing toothbrushes, razor blades or other personal items that could have small amounts of blood on them
- One person’s blood coming into contact with open cuts on another person
- Pregnancy or childbirth – there is a five percent chance of a mother with chronic hepatitis C infection passing on the virus to her baby during pregnancy or childbirth. Breastfeeding is safe unless nipples are cracked or bleeding
- Blood-to-blood contact during sex – sexual transmission rates of hepatitis C are very low, but the risk is increased with certain sexual practices or circumstances where there is the possibility of blood-to-blood contact (for example, sex during menstruation, and rough sex that can cause a tear.
Prevention of Hep C -
- Never share needles.
- Avoid direct exposure to blood or blood products.
- Don't share personal care items.
- Choose tattoo and piercers
- Practice safe sex. (It is rare for hepatitis C to be transmitted through sexual intercourse, but there is greater risk of getting hepatitis C if you have a sexually transmitted disease, HIV, or multiple sex partners or if you engage in rough sex).
Hepatitis D - Only a person who is already infected with hepatitis B can become infected with hepatitis D. Hepatitis D infection can occur as a co-infection, which means it occurs at the same time as hepatitis B infection; or it can occur as a superinfection in people who already have chronic hepatitis B. Infection is through contact with infected blood, unprotected sex, and perforation of the skin with infected needles. The liver of a person with Hepatitis D swells.
Prevention - Use the same guidelines as for hepatitis B. Only a person who is infected with hepatitis B can become infected with hepatitis D.
Hepatitis E - Hepatitis E is transmitted via the faecal-oral route and can be spread by eating or drinking contaminated food or water. The highest rates of hepatitis E infection occur in regions where there is poor sanitation and sewage management that promotes the transmission of the virus. Hepatitis E causes an acute (short-term) illness but does not cause a chronic (life-long) infection.
Prevention - At present, no vaccine exists for the prevention of hepatitis E. As hepatitis E is spread through the fecal-oral route, prevention of hepatitis E relies primarily on having access to clean drinking water and using good personal hygiene.
What Is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis is inflammation (swelling and pain) of the liver and affects millions of people worldwide causing acute and chronic liver disease and killing close to 1.4 million people every year. The various forms of viral hepatitis include hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. While all these viruses affect the liver, they are spread in different ways and have different treatments. Most liver damage is caused by 3 hepatitis viruses A, B, and C.
Hepatitis can be caused by alcohol and some other toxins and infections, as well as from our own autoimmune process (the body attacks itself). About 250 million people globally are thought to be affected by hepatitis C, while 300 million people are thought to be carriers of hepatitis B. Not all forms of hepatitis are infectious. Alcohol, medicines, and chemicals may be bad for the liver and cause inflammation. Other viruses may also cause hepatitis, such as the yellow fever virus and the virus that causes glandular fever. ‘Chronic hepatitis’ means ongoing inflammation of the liver, regardless of the underlying cause.
Remember: The liver is important for a range of functions in the body. These include regulating metabolism, making proteins, storing vitamins and iron, removing toxins and producing bile. If the liver doesn’t work properly, it can cause serious illness or sometimes even death.
Health Risks of Hepatitis -
Viral hepatitis is often preventable. However, it is still considered a serious health risk because it can:
- Destroy liver tissue.
- Spread from person to person.
- Weaken the body's immune system.
- Cause the liver to fail.
- Cause liver cancer (hepatitis B and C).
- Cause death.
Types of Hepatitis
Hepatitis A - Hepatitis A is a viral disease that affects the liver. It most commonly comes from contaminated food or water. This form of hepatitis never leads to a chronic infection and does not cause chronic liver disease. Symptoms may last for several weeks, but full recovery usually occurs. Occasional deaths from hepatitis A have occurred due to chronic liver infection.
Making these small changes to your daily life will significantly improve your well-being and put you on the road to better health.
Give up smoking
It is never too late to quit smoking, and there are many benefits to be gained no matter what your age is when you give up.
Using tobacco puts you on a collision course with cancer.
Even if you don’t use tobacco, exposure to secondhand smoke might increase your risk of lung cancer.
Tobacco smoke is made up of thousands of chemicals, and many of them are very harmful.
The poisons in tobacco smoke include:
Carbon monoxide: Fatal in large doses, this poisonous gas, is found in car exhaust fumes. It takes the place of oxygen in your blood, starving your lungs, heart, and other organs of the oxygen they need to function properly.
Tar: This sticky brown substance coats your lungs like soot in a chimney. Tar and smoke irritate your lungs, increasing the amount of mucus in your chest and restricting your breathing.
Long-term smokers are at a higher risk of developing a range of potentially deadly diseases including:
Cancer – Smoking can cause cancer of the lungs, mouth, nose, throat, oesophagus, pancreas, kidney, liver, bladder, bowel, ovary, cervix, bone marrow, and stomach;
Lung diseases – such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema;
Heart disease – such as heart attack and stroke; and
Poor blood circulation - in feet and hands, which can lead to pain and, in severe cases, gangrene and amputation.
Quit smoking now and reduce your risk of serious and life-threatening disease.
Tip: If you need help quitting smoking ask your doctor about stop-smoking products and other strategies for quitting.
Stress is a normal reaction to the ever-increasing demands of life. Unfortunately, long-term stress can cause many complications on your health. Everyone has stress at some point in life. However, if you are stressed often, it puts you at risk for heart disease, depression, and other problems.
Stress that continues without relief can lead to headaches, an upset stomach, high blood pressure, chest pain, problems with sleeping or sex, depression, panic attacks, or other forms of anxiety and worry.
Manage stress with these tips:
Ask yourself what you can do about the sources of your stress. Think through the pros and cons. Take action where you can;
keep a positive, realistic attitude. Accept that although you can’t control certain things, you’re in charge of how you respond;
stand up for yourself in a polite way. Share your feelings, opinions or beliefs, instead of becoming angry, defensive, or passive; and,
Don’t rely on alcohol, drugs, or food to help against stress.
Remember: If you feel your stress is not manageable or has continued for some time, talk to your doctor.
Get enough sleep
Healthy sleep habits can make a big difference in your quality of life. Sleep is vital for healthy physical, mental and emotional processing.
When we go without sleep or have insufficient sleep, our bodies struggle to perform to their full potential and, as a consequence, we can expect impairments to our next-day physical and mental performance.
Humans, like all animals, need sleep, food, water and oxygen to survive. For humans, sleep is a vital indicator of overall health and well-being.
How much sleep do I need?
Most adults need seven to eight hours of good quality sleep on a regular schedule each night.
Make changes to your routine if you can’t find enough time to sleep.
Important point: It is important that you go to sleep at around the same time every day.
Try to get good quality sleep so you feel rested when you wake up.
Tip: If you often have trouble sleeping – or if you don’t feel well rested after sleeping – talk to your doctor.
Don’t skip breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially for weight loss seekers.
If you skip it, you’ll get hungry before lunchtime and will potentially start snacking on foods that are high in fat and sugar and low in vitamins.
Eating breakfast can positively impact your energy level, blood sugar level, weight and even your ability to focus and be productive.
After fasting all night, breakfast fuels your body, so you start the day with energy.
Skipping breakfast affect a person’s effectiveness at work or in school.
Studies have shown that:
Adults who skip breakfast are not as productive at work, are less effective problem-solvers and have less mental clarity compared to people who regularly eat a healthy breakfast; and,
Children who eat nutritional breakfast tend to have higher grades in school. They have better concentration, alertness, and more energy, and can retain knowledge faster and think more clearly than non-breakfast eaters.
Tip: While a good breakfast is vital, eating a heavy breakfast, one which is high in carbohydrates and fat, may actually do you more harm than good.
Just like a balanced diet and exercise, an active social life is an important part of healthy living.
Studies suggest that people who have good social networks may live longer and better.
It takes effort to stay connected when your life is busy. Sometimes it may feel like it’s just too hard to stay in touch.
But, having a few close, mutually supportive friends can be a key to staying healthy.
These relationships may help you feel supported, stay mentally sharp, reach your goals, develop a more active lifestyle, reduce stress, have better health outcomes, enhance your sense of well-being and happiness, lengthen your lifespan. The National