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What you should know about hepatitis

Hepatitis is one of the most misunderstood diseases in the world today. When one hears the term hepatitis, the first thing that comes to mind is the sexually transmitted disease (STD). However, there are actually several different forms of hepatitis, and a number of ways in which one can contract this disease.

What is Hepatitis?

Hepatitis is actually a number of diseases, each with its own distinct symptoms and causes which mainly seem to target the liver. The classifications of hepatitis are Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. The symptoms range, but the most common are sudden evidence of substantial weight loss, internal issues (e.g., vomiting, diarrhea, nausea), rashes, stomach pains and a temporary illness that strongly resembles a cold or the flu. Jaundice is another common symptom.

Causes of Hepatitis

The possible causes of hepatitis are different for each particular variation. Hepatitis A, for example, has been traced to the ingestion of human waste, i.e. fecal matter, usually via contaminated food or water. Hepatitis A can also be transmitted through physical contact (and not just sexual contact).

Hepatitis B and C are transferred via the blood or body fluids containing blood. Transmission can occur through the sharing of infected needles, from a mother to a newborn child at birth and via unprotected sex, among other things.

Is Hepatitis Life Threatening?

Hepatitis can be a life-threatening illness, but not in every form. For example, Hepatitis C, one of the more feared variations, can possibly result in many issues that may be fatal. Hepatitis C has been known to lead to liver cancer, as well as cirrhosis of the liver. On the other hand, Hepatitis A is not only not life threatening, but in most cases, it is curable within a few short weeks.

What is the Treatment for Hepatitis?

Hepatitis treatment also depends upon the variation. Each version has its own treatment, depending upon the severity of the case in question. Regardless of which version an individual might contract, the earlier that one seeks medical attention, the more effective the treatment and the long-term effects of said treatment will be.

Is there a Vaccine for Hepatitis?

Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B both have vaccinations. These are generally required for school children in most Western countries at a very early age. There are some countries, however, that do not require or offer Hepatitis vaccinations in any form. Most countries will, however, require proof of vaccination before admitting visitors or tourists. For Hepatitis C, Hepatitis D and Hepatitis E, there are no current vaccinations available. Fortunately, the FDA is currently testing potential vaccinations for these variations.

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