Many people with Hepatitis B do not know they are infected. It’s advisable to get tested often so it can be detected early. If left untreated, it may lead to scarring of the liver or liver cancer. This is why every July 28th, the world commemorates World Hepatitis Day to create more awareness.
What is hepatitis?
Hepatitis is simply an inflammation of the liver. The hepatitis viruses replicate in the liver cells, causing the liver to malfunction and the liver is one of the most important organs in the human body that produces hormones and proteins, stores fats and vitamins, and purifies the blood.
There are various forms of hepatitis:
- Hepatitis A is easily transmitted from person to person via contaminated food or water. It can mostly be avoided by observing good sanitation and washing one’s hands.
- Hepatitis B is spread by infected bodily fluids, contaminated needles or razors, and during birth, if the mother is infected.
- Hepatitis C can be transferred through infected blood: sharing needles or blood transfusions.
- Hepatitis D is a small viral agent that requires hepatitis B to be present and can be infected via the same methods as hepatitis B. The presence of hepatitis B and D is very difficult to treat, and those infected may develop severe liver scarring more rapidly.
- Hepatitis E is a waterborne disease caused by faecal contamination, normally found in areas with poor sanitation.
What are the symptoms of hepatitis?
Symptoms include fatigue, mild fever, muscle ache, dark urine, stomach pain, and jaundice. By the time one notices symptoms, considerable damage may have already been done to the organ. If left untreated it can lead to cirrhosis and serious liver scarring.
Although there is no cure for chronic hepatitis, there are a variety of medications available to manage the symptoms.
You should note that Baby boomers are most likely to have the infection. Experts say it could be because they could have been infected before blood screening methods changed in 1992. Doctors strongly suggest that if you were born between 1945 and 1965, you get tested for hepatitis C.
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