Hepatitis Essay, Research Paper
Hepatitis is the term given to inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis is most commonly caused by viruses, but is usually accustomed to individuals who drink heavily for a many number of years. Hepatitis can cause your liver to become inflamed, swollen, and tender. If the infection is severe and prolonged without treatment the liver may become scarred, causing cirrhosis of the liver. The complications of hepatitis and cirrhosis are liver failure and cancer. Usually resulting in death.
Although there are many forms of hepatitis, the most commonly seen forms are
hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.
Hepatitis A has no long term infection on a individual and is treated with antibiotics.
Hepatitis B is transmitted through direct contact with blood or bodily fluids. Having un-protected sex with a infected person, injection drugs (heroin use), having a blood transfusion before 1972, or during childbirth (from mother to baby) are all ways that hepatitis B can be transmitted.
Hepatitis C is also transmitted through direct contact with blood or bodily fluids. Having unprotected sex with multiple partners, injection drugs (heroin use), having a blood transfusion before 1992 (when less accurate blood screenings for hepatitis C were performed), and although very rare, during child birth from mother to child. In most cases a person rarely knows how they were infected.
The hepatitis infection can be hard to detect because there are very little visual signs or symptoms. It is possible to carry the hepatitis B and hepatitis C infection without even knowing it. In some people, the virus can cause flu-like symptoms: fatigue, loss of appetite, weakness, vomiting, and fever. In more severe cases people will experience abdominal pain, skin rashes, dark urine, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes).
Because symptoms of hepatitis are minimal the disease usually goes unnoticed. Usually hepatitis is found in a person by blood tests that are routinely done at yearly check ups. Once the disease is indicated, a biopsy of the liver is done to confirm the diagnosis and to determine the severity of the disease.
Some forms of hepatitis are preventable, and there are vaccines available for hepatitis A, and hepatitis B. You can obtain these through your local Health Department or your Doctor?s office. The hepatitis A vaccine is recommended (four weeks prior to traveling) for people who plan on traveling to Mexico, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, South and Central America, and Africa. And it is also recommended for patients with other forms of liver disease to obtain the hepatitis A vaccine. The hepatitis B vaccine is a standard series of shots that are part of childhood immunizations, and is recommended for all infants, pre-teenagers, and adults who are sexually active and or use drugs There is currently no vaccine for hepatitis C.
For people with hepatitis A, there is no specific required treatment. Once you get hepatitis A, your body builds a resistance to it. After the disease has resolved the person is highly unlikely to get hepatitis A again. The drug commonly used to treat hepatitis B is called Alfa Interferon. It works with many patients, and has minimal side effects. Hepatitis C is treated with a drug called Interferon. Which is the only drug available at this time to work against this disease.
Hepatitis A causes no long term liver damage, and is rarely fatal. Having this disease produces life long resistance to future infection.
Hepatitis B, and hepatitis C are the most dangerous forms of hepatitis. They can last a lifetime and cause liver failure, liver cancer, and death. Liver damage caused by hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver transplants in the United States. To minimize the possibility of liver failure or liver cancer, it is extremely important that patients with hepatitis B or hepatitis C do not drink alcohol.
The most important aspect of hepatitis is for cautious behavior to avoid becoming infected in the first place. Wash your hands everytime you use the bathroom. Do not inject or snort drugs, if you must do so, do not share needles, and dispose of them properly. Do not have multiple sex partners, and always make sure that when you do have sex that you are using protection. And last but not least, make sure that your children are up to date with their immunizations.