What is hepatitis? How to prevent infection with this disease?

Hepatitis is an infectious disease which causes liver inflammation. It is a serious disease because it affects many functions of the liver, such as producing bile, regulating the chemical composition of blood or eliminating potentially harmful substances from the bloodstream.


Types of hepatitis

There are five known types of viruses responsible for the appearance of viral hepatitis. Hepatitis type A, B and C are encountered most often, while hepatitis D and E – rarer. The severity and duration of the illness are determined largely by the virus that caused it, which is transmitted in different ways.


For example, Hepatitis A can be contracted orally, usually in conditions of poor hygiene: through direct contact with an infected person through infected water or food. It is considered the least dangerous form of the disease because it does not lead to chronic inflammation of the liver.


Hepatitis B can be transmitted from mother to child at birth, through sexual contact or blood transfusions. Hepatitis C is transmitted usually through contact with blood or contaminated needles and may develop without any symptoms. Within 10 years, about 30% of those who are infected develop cirrhosis.


D virus appears only if people have hepatitis B and is most dangerous because it involves two forms of the disease progressing concurrently. Hepatitis E virus is spread in a similar manner as hepatitis A, on the fecal-oral route.


Widespread virus outbreaks may occur more often in countries where drinking water is infected after monsoons and floods (Asia, Mexico and Africa).


Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of infection with the virus do not appear immediately after infection. Moreover, in the case of hepatitis B and C symptoms may be absent over the years, and the infected person can transmit the infection to others without knowing.


However, when they occur, symptoms may include the following: fatigue, nausea, tenderness or discomfort in the liver, muscle and joint pain, dark urine, fever etc. If you notice them, ask your doctor for appropriate treatment.