What do you know about HEPATITIS
The word hepatitis simply means an inflammation of the liver without pinpointing a specific cause. Someone with hepatitis may have one of several disorders, including viral or bacterial infection of the liver
- have a liver injury caused by a toxin (poison)
- have liver damage caused by interruption of the organ’s normal blood supply be experiencing an attack by his or her own immune system through an autoimmune disorder
- have experienced trauma to the abdomen in the area of the liver
Hepatitis is most commonly caused by one of three viruses:
- the hepatitis A virus
- the hepatitis B virus
- the hepatitis C virus
In some rare cases, the Epstein Barr Virus (which causes mononucleosis) can also result in hepatitis because it can cause inflammation of the liver. Other viruses and bacteria that also can cause hepatitis
In children, the most common form of hepatitis is hepatitis A (also called infectious hepatitis). This form is caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV), which lives in the stools (feces or poop) of infected individuals. Infected stool can be present in small amounts in food and on objects.
HAV is spread:
When someone ingests anything that’s contaminated with HAV-infected stool (this makes it easy for the virus to spread iovercrowded,unsanitary living conditions)
in water, milk, and foods, especially in shellfish.
Because hepatitis A can be a mild infection, particularly in children, it’s possible for some people to be unaware that they have had the illness. Although the hepatitis A virus can cause prolonged illness up to 6 months, it typically only causes short-lived illnesses and it does not cause chronic liver disease.
Hepatitis B (also called serum hepatitis) is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). HBV can cause a wide spectrum of symptoms ranging from general malaise to chronic liver disease that can lead to liver cancer.
HBV spreads through:
- infected body fluids, such as blood, saliva, semen, tears, and urine
- a contaminated blood transfusion
- shared contaminated needles or syringes for injecting drugs
- sexual activity with an HBV-infected person
- transmission from HBV-infected mothers to their newborn babies
The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is spread by direct contact with an infected person’s blood. The symptoms of the hepatitis C virus can be very similar to those of the hepatitis A and B viruses. However, infection with HCV can lead to chronic liver disease and is the leading reason for liver transplant in the United States. The hepatitis C virus can be spread by:
- sharing drug needles
- getting a tattoo or body piercing with unsterilized tools
- blood transfusions
Hepatitis C is also a common threat in kidney dialysis centers. Rarely, people living with an infected person can contract the disease by sharing items that might contain that person’s blood, such as razors or toothbrushes.
Signs and Symptoms
Hepatitis, in its early stages, may cause flu-like symptoms, including:
- malaise (a general ill feeling)
- muscle aches
- loss of appetite
- jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
But some people with hepatitis may have no symptoms at all and may not even know they’re infected. Children with hepatitis A, for example, usually have mild symptoms or have no symptoms. The hepatitis A virus can be spread in contaminated food or water, as well as in unsanitary conditions in child-care facilities or schools. Toilets and sinks used by an infected person should be cleaned with antiseptic cleansers. People who live with or care for someone with hepatitis should wash their hands after contact with the infected person. In addition, when traveling to countries where hepatitis A is prevalent, your child should be vaccinated with at least two doses of the hepatitis A vaccine.
The hepatitis B virus can be found in virtually all body fluids, though its main routes of infection are through sexual contact, contaminated blood transfusions, and shared needles for drug injections. Household contact with adults with hepatitis B can put people at risk for contracting hepatitis. But frequent hand washing and good hygiene practices can reduce this risk.
In general, to prevent viral hepatitis you should:
Follow good hygiene and avoid crowded, unhealthy living conditions.
Take extra care, particularly when drinking and swimming, if you travel to areas of the world where sanitation is poor and water quality is uncertain.
Never eat shellfish from waters contaminated by sewage.
Remind everyone in your family to wash their hands thoroughly after using the toilet and before eating.
Use antiseptic cleansers to clean any toilet, sink, potty-chair, or bedpan used by someone in the family who develops hepatitis.
Because contaminated needles and syringes are a major source of hepatitis infection, it’s a good idea to encourage drug awareness programs in your community and schools. At home, speak to your child frankly and frequently about the dangers of drug use.
( Source: health Kids , WHO)