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.
Most people who are infected with the hepatitis virus 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, 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 hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines.
- Wear gloves if you come in contact with blood or body fluids.
- Don’t share or re-use needles or works.
- Don’t share personal care items, such as toothbrushes, razors, nail files, combs, or washcloths. There may be blood on these items that you cannot see.
- Use a condom every time you have sex.
- If you are a healthcare worker, always follow universal 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.
- Ask your healthcare provider if you or other people who live with you need Immune Globulin (IG) or Hepatitis B Immune Globulin (HBIG). IG may be recommended for people who live with or have close contact with someone who has hepatitis. HBIG may be recommended for someone who was exposed to hepatitis B.
If you are infected
- Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages.
- Do not use injectable drugs. Only take medications that are prescribed by your physician.
- Get hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccinations.
- Do not donate your blood, body organs, tissue, or sperm.
- Do not share toothbrushes, razors or other personal care articles that might have blood/body fluids on them.
- Do not share needles or works for medications, tattoos, or illicit drugs.
- Cover your cuts and open sores.
- Do not have unprotected sex. Use a condom every time you have sex. more