Introduction to Hepatitis
What is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis is the term used to describe inflation of the liver, usually the result of a viral infection or liver damage caused by excessive use of Alcohol.
Hepatitis comes in different forms, most of which are outlined below.
Some types of hepatitis will pass without any issues, whilst some can be chronic and cause scarring of the liver, loss of liver function and in some cases, you can also develop liver cancer.
What are the symptoms of Hepatitis?
Short term hepatitis often has no noticeable symptoms, so you may not realise you have it. If you do develop symptoms, they can look like the following:
- Muscle and joint pain
- A high temperature
- Feeling and being sick
- Loss of appetite
- Tummy ache
- Dark urine
- Itchy skin
- Yellowing of the eyes and skin
You should see your GP if you have any of the following symptoms persistently.
Hepatitis A is usually caused by consuming food and drink contaminated with the poo of an infected person; this type is more common in countries where sanitation is poor. This type of virus usually passes within a few months, although it can occasionally be severe and life-threatening.
Hepatitis B is commonly spread by the blood of an infected person. This type isn’t so common in the UK and usually spreads from infected pregnant women to their babies, or from child-to-child contact. In the rare case this type effects people who have unprotected sex or inject drugs.
Hepatitis C is the most common type of hepatitis virus in the UK. This is usually spread through blood-to-blood contact with an infected person and it is most commonly spread through sharing needles used to inject drugs. Poor healthcare practice and unsafe medical injections are the main way this virus is spread in the UK.
Hepatitis C often causes no noticeable symptoms, or only flu-like symptoms so many people are unaware they’re infected.
Hepatitis C can be treated with very effective antiviral medications, but there’s currently no vaccine available.
Alcoholic hepatitis is a type of hepatitis caused by drinking excessive amounts of alcohol over many years.
This condition is common in the UK and many people do not realise they have it. This is because it does not usually cause any symptoms, although it can cause sudden jaundice and liver failure in some people.
Stopping drinking can allow your liver to recover, but there’s a risk you could develop cirrhosis, liver failure or liver cancer if you continue to drink excessively.
To learn more about Hepatitis, visit the NHS.UK website at www.nhs.uk
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