The A, B, C, D and E of Hepatitis.
By Carolina Salinas
Hepatitis is a disease that causes the inflammation of liver. This organ has a wide range of digestion functions that help contribute to having a perfect performance in a human body.
However, this illness is not only caused by a viral infection, but can also be caused in other ways. For instance, there are certain drugs, medicines or even alcohol whose side effects can trigger hepatitis. There are FIVE types of hepatitis, which makes it even more difficult to get an accurate diagnosis, which in many cases has ended up in deaths due to a lack of symptoms.
1. Hepatitis A
Every hepatitis disease is caused by its respective virus. Hence, hepatitis A, is caused by an infection with the hepatitis A virus (HAV). It is a short-time type of hepatitis, which does not require any treatment, and that your own immune system can attack. It is generally transmitted by consuming food or water contaminated by feces from a sick person with hepatitis A.
Among the main symptoms are abdominal pain (liver, right upper quadrant), dark urine, loss of appetite, and yellowing of your skin or eyes. The only way to avoid hepatitis A, is its vaccination.
2. Hepatitis B
On the other hand, hepatitis B is more of a serious case, due to the fact that this type is transmitted through sexual contact and body fluids. Therefore, it can be spread as well by injection drug use or if you have sex with an infected partner.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the overall reported rate of hepatitis B infections in Canada was 0.6 reported cases per 100,000 people living in Canada in 2011. However, global numbers look scary, as it is estimated that there are are roughly 350 million people in the world that have to deal with this horrible disease everyday.
Thus, if you want to avoid the consequences of this chronic sickness, the best thing that you can do is to protect yourself throughout immunization.
3. Hepatitis C
Either hepatitis B (HCB) or hepatitis C (HCV) are transmitted by infected body fluids, such as blood or sexual secretions. Both virus are the main cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer.
According to the Medical Officer of Health - Toronto, hepatitis B or C are the 5th and 1st most burdensome infections in Ontario respectively, and it’s estimated that the HCV causes 400 deaths annually on average
Contrary to hepatitis A and B, the HCV does not have a vaccination yet. That is why, this disease is highly contagious and its figures increase every year. Hence, we encourage you to be aware of the risk that comes with having an active sexual life without protection or the use of drugs.
4. Delta Hepatitis
Also known as “delta hepatitis”, the hepatitis D virus (HDV) is contracted directly through the contact of infected blood, and only appears in the presence of hepatitis B. In other words, only people sick with hepatitis B can develop this illness.
Thus, if you do not want to develop hepatitis B and then the type D, it is highly recommended to be vaccinated as a prevention method to avoid the consequences of this acute and chronic illness, and take the respective preventions as well.
5. Hepatitis E
Similar to the hepatitis A, the E virus is frequently found in areas with poor sanitation. Thus, ingesting water with poor sanitation or water that has been contaminated by fecal matter can trigger hepatitis E.
Hepatitis E can be spread throughout blood transfusions or via an infected pregnant woman to her baby as well.
Generally, this disease is healed by our own immune system, equally as hepatitis A. Hence, in order to avoid falling sick of hepatitis E, you should be hygienic, wash your hands often and if you plan on visiting developing countries, avoid drinking tap water at all costs, as it is much better to drink only boiled or bottled water.
In general, all types of hepatitis from A to E can lead to the inflammation of the liver. However, there are cases in which our own immune system can extinguish these viruses (hepatitis A and E), and with certain health precautions, such as avoiding alcohol and maintaining a healthy diet.
On the other hand, there are other cases - for instance with hepatitis B and C, where it can lead to development of inflammation of the liver that can end in Cirrhosis and liver cancer, which unfortunately our own body cannot eliminate on its own.
It is important to be vaccinated and informed in order to avoid falling sick to any kind of hepatitis.