It is estimated that 33% of the world’s population is infected with some type of hepatitis virus . This disease is an inflammation of the liver due to a wide selection of causes, and which leads to a wide range of serious health problems.
One of the most direct consequences of hepatitis is the reduction in the production of bile , a substance that is responsible for absorbing fats in the intestine. In addition, this disease decreases the production of proteins by the body, leading to fluid retention.
Hepatitis can also trigger hypoglycemia . Glycogen is transformed into glucose as long as the body needs it; however, if the reserves are not sufficient it can lead to a reduction in the blood sugar level of the infected patient.
The different hepatitis viruses
There are a total of five different hepatitis viruses, each designated by a letter given : A, B, C, D and E . Each of them has its own characteristics.
Hepatitis A virus
It occurs through the feces of infected people. In the vast majority of cases, it is transmitted through the consumption of contaminated food or water; contagion can also occur through sexual intercourse. It is a mild infection and the cure rate is practically 100%. However, in poor and developing countries the hepatitis A virus can be life-threatening due to poor seizure and the absence of vaccines to prevent infection.
Hepatitis B virus
It is the most common type of hepatitis and is transmitted through the blood, semen and any body fluid of an infected person ; Contagion is very common through injections with contaminated needles, as well as through the consumption of intectabeles. In the case of pregnant women, it is possible that this virus is transmitted from the infected mother to the baby. Currently there is a very effective vaccine to prevent the hepatitis B virus.
Hepatitis C virus
It is transmitted in practically 100% of cases by exposure to contaminated blood , which occurs during blood transfusions, injections with contaminated instruments, and the use of injectable drugs. In certain cases it can also be transmitted sexually, although it is not so common. There is no type of vaccine to prevent this type of virus.
Hepatitis D virus
It can only happen in those previously infected with the hepatitis B virus . In some cases the infection by both viruses happens at the same time, generating a very serious condition that can even cause death.
Hepatitis E virus
In relation to the hepatitis E virus, it is transmitted through the consumption of contaminated food or water . This virus is one of the most frequent causes of epidemic outbreaks that take place in developing countries. Currently there are prevention vaccines for this virus, but they have a very low distribution.
Symptoms of the disease
Hepatitis can lead to a mild or chronic clinical picture . In the case that it is mild, it means that the condition begins and disappears quickly. On the other hand, if the hepatitis is chronic, the disease lasts over time, and can lead to a wide range of serious diseases such as liver failure or even certain types of cancer.
The severity of the disease depends on a large selection of factors, the most important of which are two. On the one hand, the cause of the infection. And, on the other hand, the general state of health of the patient.
The first symptoms of hepatitis appear about a week after infection. One of the main problems with this disease is that the symptoms are very similar to those of the flu ; This is the reason why many patients take time to go to the doctor and the condition is detected in advanced stages.
Generally, the first warning signs are general malaise, tiredness, difficulty concentrating, fever , muscle pain, headache, nausea, and poor appetite.
As the disease progresses, other more specific symptoms begin to occur.
- Skin: the skin takes a yellowish tone due to the increase of bilirubin in the blood. The liver becomes inflamed, leading to an alteration in enzyme functions.
- Urine: urine also changes color, taking on a much darker color than usual due to a disorder in the liver circulation.
- Breath: Another of the most common symptoms of hepatitis is bad breath; the sensation of having a bitter taste continued in the mouth.
- Pain – Some patients also experience abdominal pain on the right or left side.
When the patient comes to the doctor’s office with a series of symptoms that make us suspect some condition related to the hepatic system, first of all their clinical history is studied ; In this way, the doctor checks whether or not there is a family history of liver disease and whether the patient has any chronic disease.
Generally, an analysis is requested to assess the levels of transaminases . In the case of acute hepatitis, the levels are very high; meanwhile, if the condition is chronic, the levels are not so high, although its concentration varies. The laboratory tests also check the levels of serum bilirubin, alkaline phosphatase and γ-glutamyl-transpeptidase in order to determine the functioning of the liver system.
If after performing the analysis the doctor suspects hepatitis, it is necessary to perform a series of additional tests to determine the presence of the virus. Their objective is to determine the amount of virus in the body and to detect the presence of specific antibodies for each of the types of hepatitis viruses that exist.
If the diagnosis of hepatitis is confirmed, a liver biopsy is requested; A sample of the liver is taken with a small puncture to determine to what extent the organ is affected by the infection.
The treatment of this disease basically depends on the type of virus in question. In the case of type A and B hepatitis, they can be cured without the need for any type of medication . Generally, the doctor recommends a diet low in fat, avoiding alcohol as much as possible, and resting.
As for hepatitis C , it can be treated with medications; the vast majority of patients take a ribavirin and pegylated interferon alfa. The treatment lasts between 24 and 48 hours. It is worth keeping in mind that it has a number of side effects.
In the most serious cases in which the liver is severely damaged and the situation is irreversible, transplantation can be used .
Tips to prevent hepatitis
According to data provided by the World Health Organization, only 5% of people infected with hepatitis B or C are aware of their situation. This is an important risk factor for the disease to continue to spread throughout the world. Thus, there are a series of tips that should be remembered to avoid spreading this infection as much as possible.
First of all, it is essential to maintain optimal hygiene habits ; wash your hands frequently, avoid direct contact with strangers …
Second, taking into account that drinking contaminated water is one of the sources of infection, it is important to avoid drinking water in areas where sanitary conditions are poor.
Of course, it is imperative to avoid sharing needles and syringes. When performing any type of cosmetic intervention, such as a piercing or a tattoo, you must go to an approved center.
And finally, sexual intercourse, both vaginal and oral and anal, should always be carried out with adequate protection .
Currently there is a vaccine against hepatitis A and B. As we have indicated, at the moment there is no one that prevents hepatitis C. The most common form of administration is a combined vaccine that protects against both viruses and that is administered in babies in three doses; in months zero, one and six.
Taking into account the cases of hepatitis that exist throughout the world and the serious consequences that this disease has for the body, it is worth taking into account the prevention tips and applying them.
Finally, remember that the risk of contracting this disease increases considerably when moving to certain developing countries , where both sanitary and hygienic conditions are very poor. Therefore, before traveling it is important to find out about the destination and take extreme precautions: wash your hands frequently, be careful with what you eat and what you drink, and avoid any contact with the blood or body fluids of others. .
Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.