The A, B, C's of Hepatitis
Blood is one of the main reasons we’re all alive, but what happens when our blood gets infected? Hepatitis is one form of infection that has the potential to harm your bloodstream and ultimately your liver. To avoid living with an undiagnosed infection, it’s important to explore the different types of hepatitis, how they affect your body, and how to prevent them.
What is the hepatitis virus?
It’s the inflammation of the liver that’s caused when your bloodstream gets infected. The virus can come in any of these forms: A, B, C, D, or E.
Hepatitis A virus:
Most of the time, there are no obvious side effects or symptoms with hepatitis A. Undercooked foods, not washing your hands after changing diapers or visiting countries where the infection is more common, are all significant factors that can lead to contracting the virus.
Since it usually goes away on its own, treatment is typically not needed. Vaccines are recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Ask your doctor for more information.
Hepatitis B virus:
This variation shows mild symptoms and can go away with time—unless it’s viral. When infants are affected, it usually comes in the form of chronic hepatitis and lasts throughout their life. If the infection remains untreated, it can cause liver damage, liver failure, and liver cancer.
Hepatitis B is commonly contracted through contact with blood, body fluid from someone infected by it, or through unprotected sex. Needles, razors, and toothbrushes are other ways of spreading the infection. Individuals who inject illegal drugs and have multiple sex partners are at a higher risk of contracting this form of hepatitis.
The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended to help prevent infection. Those suffering from chronic hepatitis B will receive routine blood tests to check the health of their liver.
Hepatitis C virus:
This infection is spread through your blood, but it typically shows no symptoms. Living with chronic hepatitis C can lead to severe complications like liver failure and liver cancer.
Similar to above, if you have chronic hepatitis C, your healthcare provider will require you to have scheduled blood tests for the safety of your liver. The hepatitis C vaccine is also advised.
Only appears in those who have the hepatitis B virus. The combination of both viruses can cause serious infection in the bloodstream.
Mostly caused by consuming contaminated water or food. There are vaccine options, but they are not readily available. Your doctor will be able to provide you with more guidance if you have this form of infection.
Chronic hepatitis B and C are the main causes for liver cancer according to the CDC. Catching these infections early can help your doctor protect your liver from further harm.
If you have injected illegal drugs, had multiple sex partners, or know of a family history of hepatitis infection, you should be tested. Prevent hepatitis by scheduling routine blood tests and getting the Hepatitis B and C vaccine when appropriate.