All About Hepatitis

All About Hepatitis

by Shearly (SU)

Hepatitis is a serious liver condition, usually caused by a virus. In some rare cases, hepatitis can also be caused by certain medications. Hepatitis causes swelling (inflammation) of the liver, and can cause scarring, which may damage the liver and prevent it from functioning normally. There are five major strains of viral hepatitis, each one causing inflammation of the liver. They can vary in severity and treatability. The five kinds of hepatitis are type A, B, C, D and E. It is possible to have more than one strain of hepatitis at once.


A guide to the Five Kinds of Hepatitis


Hepatitis A

this kind of hepatitis is usually transmitted by eating or drinking food contaminated by the virus. This often occurs when an infected food worker does not wash their hands or wear gloves while preparing food. Fortunately, Hepatitis A does not usually lead to long term liver inflammation and scarring, and usually clears up on its own, although it can be severe enough to require hospitalization. There is also an effective vaccine for Hepatitis A.


Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B can be transmitted through one of several ways; it can be spread through sexual contact, sharing contaminated needles, or a child can be born with it, if the mother is infected. The majority of people are able to successfully fight off the disease, however people can carry the infection without symptoms, sometimes passing it to others unaware.


Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C can be transmitted in the same way B can, and is frequently passed along from sharing needles for illicit drugs, contaminated tattoo needles, or infected body fluids such as semen or blood. Some people with this form of hepatitis do not experience symptoms, or the symptoms are very mild. Hepatitis C, however, can lead to severe scarring or cirrhosis of the liver (20% of patients develop cirrhosis from hepatitis C). Hepatitis C is also associated with liver cancer.


Hepatitis D

Hepatitis D can only occur if the person is already infected with hepatitis B. Hepatitis D is transmitted like hepatitis C, through exposure to tainted needles, or infected body fluids such as semen or blood. This form of the disease is more common in other parts of the world, such as South America, the Pacific Islands, Central Asia, and West Africa. There is no vaccine or cure for hepatitis D.


Hepatitis E

Hepatitis E is usually seen in Mexico, Africa, Asia, and India. It can be transmitted via contaminated food or water. When seen in the US, it is often related to someone returning from traveling in an area where there has been an outbreak or where sanitation and water quality are poor. It can progress to a chronic condition; although, most people are able to overcome the disease.

If you are concerned about the effects of hepatitis, call Anne Arundel Gastroenterology Associates at (410) 224-2116 today, or complete our convenient online form to schedule an appointment with one of our highly-trained gastroenterologists. Life doesn’t have to be this way, and we can help.