When children are getting vaccines, some people might hear the name ‘Hepatitis’ and wonder what exactly it is. The condition ranges from Hepatitis A to Hepatitis E, and that can make it hard for some patients to understand. You might wonder what the differences are between so many kinds of Hepatitis and which ones you are at risk for.
To raise awareness of this disease, in tandem with World Hepatitis Day, The Colony ER Hospital is here to shed some light on this dangerous disease. We want to go through what Hepatitis is, why vaccines matter, and how your family can stay safe with some simple hygiene techniques.
The Strains of Hepatitis
Hepatitis refers to several severe diseases that infect the liver and can become life threatening. There are a few different causes for the various forms of Hepatitis, but only three of them are a risk for U.S. citizens. Hepatitis A, B, and C are the most common forms of Hepatitis, while Hepatitis D and E are only really a risk for parts of the world with less developed healthcare.
- Hepatitis A: this form of Hepatitis is caused when someone ingests fecal matter, even a tiny, microscopic amount. If you have close contact with someone who is infected with Hepatitis A, including sexual contact, then it could be transmitted as well. This version of Hepatitis is less severe than others, and while it is still a serious, acute disease, most patients recover from it completely with no lasting damage.
- Hepatitis B: this form is a more severe form of Hepatitis, and it is caused more commonly through Hepatitis-infected bodily fluids getting into someone’s bloodstream. If a mother with Hepatitis B gives birth, her baby could be born with Hepatitis B, if someone has sex with a partner who has Hepatitis, this can also result in a Hepatitis B infection. Infected blood, semen, and other bodily fluids transfer the disease. While most patients who contract Hepatitis B recover fully, there is a 15%-25% chance that those who are chronically infected will suffer lasting liver damage like cirrhosis, live failure, or even cancer.
- Hepatitis C: this form of Hepatitis can pose the most log-term risks for chronic sufferers. It is contracted primarily through contaminated needles. Whether by illegal substances or unsanitary healthcare environments, Hepatitis C can cause complications for those who develop a chronic illness. Up to 70% of chronically infected patients will develop liver disease, and up to 20% of them will develop cirrhosis within 30 years. Hepatitis C was linked to 19,600 deaths in 2014.
These three kinds of Hepatitis range in severity, depending on whether they remain acute, or develop into chronic conditions. Acute conditions refer to a new infection, one that can be hard to detect, but easy to treat. Chronic conditions, though refer to a Hepatitis infection that has not subsided after 6 month of treatment. Since Hepatitis is caused most commonly by viruses, they can resist treatment sometimes and if a patient is younger, they have a higher risk for being infected with a severe, chronic Hepatitis.
Knowing the various kinds of Hepatitis is helpful, but how do you know if someone you love has contracted Hepatitis? No matter which kind of Hepatitis you may contract, the symptoms are the same. They are:
- Fatigue and exhaustion
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain
- Joint pain
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
- Gray-colored bowel movements
These symptoms can indicate a Hepatitis infection. While acute Hepatitis can be hard to recognize, if you see these symptoms in a loved one, it is time to seek medical attention.
With three kinds of serious liver diseases posing a risk for your family’s health, how do you stay safe from Hepatitis? For the most part, making sure you wash all of your produce before cooking, and wash your hands thoroughly before every meal can help to make sure your food is not contaminated.
But, for Hepatitis A and B, there are vital vaccines available to ensure that they do not infection anyone in your family. Babies are especially vulnerable to Hepatitis infections, and have the highest likelihood that Hepatitis will become chronic. An infant with a chronic liver disease runs a high risk for further complications, which is why vaccines are so important. If you have an infant or are expecting a new baby, then make sure you speak with your doctor about these vaccines, and schedule them when your child will need them.
For adults, if you were vaccinated as a child, your risks of contracting Hepatitis are low. But for those traveling out of the country, it might be advised that they get a booster of the vaccine. Talk with your physician to see if your health could benefit from a Hepatitis booster.
Hepatitis is a serious disease, and if it goes unchecked, it can create very severe complications in a patient. If you or a loved one begins to exhibit signs of Hepatitis, then seek immediate medical attention. In the event of any medical emergencies, The Colony ER Hospital is available 24/7 with concierge-level care for all patients, for all ages.
This blog is written by Maggie Berardo, content writer at Nutex Health.
Nutex Health, Inc supports you and your family’s health. You can depend on The Colony Emergency Room Hospital or any one of our concierge-level, freestanding emergency facilities to deliver the emergency care you deserve, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.