“Hepatitis” means inflammation of the liver. When the liver, is inflamed or damaged, its ability to process nutrients, filter blood, and fight infections is decreased. Hepatitis is most often caused by a virus though it can also be caused by heavy alcohol use, toxins, some medications, and certain medical conditions. In the United States, the most common types of viral hepatitis are Hepatitis A, B and C. Viral hepatitis is the leading cause of liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplantation. An estimated 4.4 million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis; most do not know they are infected. About 80,000 new infections occur each year.
Most people who are infected with the hepatitis virus often have no symptoms. Others have: loss of appetite, aching muscles and/or joint pain, diarrhea, dark urine, light-colored stools, vague abdominal discomfort, nausea, vomiting, and yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), fever or fatigue. Symptoms can range from mild to severe.
What you should do
to avoid Viral Hepatitis
- Get a preventive Hepatitis A & B vaccine series.
- Wash hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.
- Wash hands before preparing food.
- Use gloves if touching blood or body fluids.
- Don’t share needles or works for injecting drugs, piercing, tattooing or any other reason.
- Don’t share personal care items, such toothbrushes, razors, nail files, combs or washcloths. Some blood may be on it.
- Not having sex or having sex with only partner.
- Use safer sex practices, such as condoms.
- If you are a health care worker, always follow routine barrier precautions and safely handle needles and other sharps.
If you think you have been exposed to Viral Hepatitis
- Contact your primary care physician or go to a Hepatitis B & C testing, counseling and referral site to get tested.
- Immune Globulin (IG) may be recommended for household members and others in close contact with a Hepatitis infected person.
- Hepatitis B Immune Globulin (HBIG) may be recommended for persons with a confirmed exposure to Hepatitis B, such as newborn infants of mother and sex partners of with Hepatitis B patients or carriers.
If you are infected
- Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages
- Do not shoot drugs. Only take medications approved by your physician.
- Eat healthy food.
- Get regular check-ups.
- Get preventive hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccinations.
- Do not donate your blood, body organs, other tissue, or sperm.
- Do not share toothbrushes, razors, or other personal care articles that might have blood/body fluids on them.
- Cover your cuts or open sores.
- Abstain from having sex, if not practice safer sex practices. (more)