Every year between 5 and 6% of the population is diagnosed with Hepatitis A (the statistic are more extensive in countries with poor hygiene, and where sanitation and sewage disposal are poor) the most common form of Liver infection. The other forms of Hepatitis are Hepatitis B and C, fatal in most cases, and there is no vaccine available.
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, caused by drugs, regular consumption of alcohol, or certain medical conditions. However, in most cases, it is caused by a virus that infects the liver: Viral Hepatitis. The most common forms are hepatitis A, B, and C.
What are the Symptoms?
In most cases, symptoms are not showing in the first few weeks (the acute phase), generally showing after 2-7 weeks. The symptoms of Hepatitis A, B, and C may include:
When Hepatitis B and C become chronic, they may cause no symptoms for years, and the liver may be already damaged by the time warning signs arise.
Hepatitis A is highly contagious (through body liquids, including sweat, stools, including by hands not washed, or not washed properly, after going to the toilets) and infected people may not realise they are sick at all. In most cases, the virus goes away on its own, and the antibodies created by the infected person’s body, will defend the body from further infection (you only get Hepatitis A once). Although, reinfection may occur after 6-9months. Therefore, a change in lifestyle is crucial:
Traveling in regions with high infection rate may put you at risk.
Drinking heavily may also be favourable for Hepatitis A infection. It is called noninfectious Hepatitis, and may also lead to Liver cancer.
The good side of Hepatitis A is that the virus does not cause permanent damage to the liver, and there is vaccination in place, compulsory in some Western Europe countries for people working with children (schools, day care centres…) and food (chefs, cooks…). Children in America, have to be vaccinated as early as 1 year old.
In some rare cases, such as Fulminant Hepatitis, a liver transplant may be necessary to avoid liver failure or even death.
The hepatitis A infection is usually caught by putting something in your mouth that has been contaminated with the stools (faeces) of someone with hepatitis A.
NHS Choices. (Visit http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hepatitis-a/Pages/Introduction.aspx for more information)
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