WebMD Guide: Hepatitis types and treatments

May is Hepatitis Awareness Month, and WebMD is providing a guide to this illness that affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

CDC Hepatitis

Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C are the most common types of viral hepatitis, but there are actually five main forms of the disease. Although these five forms share the name “hepatitis,” they are all caused by different viruses and all have different prognoses (e.g., not all forms can lead to liver cancer).

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a short-term illness that is caused by infection with the hepatitis A virus. Hepatitis A was once very common, but is less so these days due to improving sanitary conditions and widespread availability of a vaccine.

Although most people who get infected with the hepatitis A virus recover over time with no lasting effects, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends hepatitis A vaccination because people can contract hepatitis A through contaminated food or water in China.

Hepatitis A is easily prevented with a safe and effective vaccine, which is recommended for all children at one year of age and for adults who may be at risk.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is an infection caused by the hepatitis B virus. Despite the availability of a vaccine, hepatitis B remains common in many parts of the world, including Asia, the Pacific Islands and Africa. Hepatitis B is endemic in China — of the 350 million individuals worldwide infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV), roughly one-third reside in China. One of the more common modes of the spread of viral hepatitis B is through intimate sexual contact.

Patients infected with hepatitis B, especially young children, can go on to develop a chronic or lifelong infections. Over time, chronic hepatitis B virus infection can cause serious liver damage, and even liver cancer.

Hepatitis B is preventable with a vaccine. The hepatitis B virus can be passed from an infected woman to her baby at birth, if her baby does not receive the hepatitis B vaccine. As a result, the hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all infants at birth and adults at risk.

Today, many patients infected with hepatitis B contracted the disease before the hepatitis B vaccine was widely available. For these patients treatments are available that can significantly delay or reduce their risks of developing liver cancer.

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is an infection caused by the hepatitis C virus. In the past, hepatitis C was spread through blood transfusions and organ transplants, but today most patients contract hepatitis C by sharing needles, syringes, or any other equipment to inject drugs.

Most infected patients go on to develop a chronic or lifelong infections, which can cause serious liver damage, cirrhosis of the liver and even liver cancer over time. About half of people with hepatitis C are unaware they are infected because they do not experience symptoms, which can take decades to appear and can include bleeding and bruising easily, fatigue, loss of appetite, jaundice, itchy skin, and fluid buildup in the abdomen.

Although there is currently no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C, new treatments offer a cure for most infected patients. Most patients with hepatitis C can actually be cured in just 8 to 12 weeks, however the medication Sofosbuvir (sold under the brand names “Sovaldi” and “Harvoni”) is so expensive that many patients have turned to medical tourism to obtain treatment. Increasing numbers of Chinese have been traveling to India to purchase Sofosbuvir.

Hepatitis D

Hepatitis D is caused by the hepatitis D virus, but it needs hepatitis B to exist. Hepatitis D is transmitted through contact with an infected person’s blood or bodily fluids, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Patients can contract hepatitis D at the same time they contract hepatitis B, or as a superinfection with an existing hepatitis B infection.

Symptoms of hepatitis D generally include jaundice, fatigue, dark urine, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, vomiting, nausea, and joint pain. These symptoms are likely are likely to be more severe for patients infected with hepatitis D, compared with patients only infected with hepatitis B (the former also have up to a 20 percent risk of developing acute liver failure).

There is currently no treatment for hepatitis D, but getting the hepatitis B vaccine can prevent contracting hepatitis D.

Hepatitis E

Hepatitis E is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis E virus. It’s usually spread through fecal-oral contact (in microscopic amounts) and is often transmitted by contaminated water in countries with poor sanitation.

Symptoms of hepatitis E are similar to those of other forms of hepatitis, including fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain, jaundice, dark urine, and clay-colored stool.

Most patients infected with hepatitis E recover completely without any treatment.

Please talk to your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of any form of hepatitis. Your doctor should be able to confirm a hepatitis diagnosis, and recommend a course of action to improve your health.

3 Responses to “WebMD Guide: Hepatitis types and treatments”

  1. kitty23
    June 17, 2018 at 3:31 pm #

    第一次看,感觉还挺新鲜!

  2. 藏金
    June 20, 2018 at 3:05 pm #

    学习了,我认真看看!

  3. 948
    June 21, 2018 at 3:47 pm #

    炎热夏天,闲来无事,拜读博客,消暑解闷!

Leave a Comment