Classifying Hepatits A, B, C, D and E

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Understanding the different forms of hepatitis, who is at risk, and how it can be prevented and treated can be confusing. Here are some pointers..


Hepatitis A

High contagious.
Causes inflammation affecting your liver's ability to function.
Contracted from contaminated food, water or someone already infected.
Prevalent in places with poor hygiene and sanitation.
Symptoms: fever, malaise, loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark-coloured urine, and jaundice.
Mild cases don't require treatment.
Most people recover completely with no permanent liver damage.
Prevention: practice good hand hygiene.

Hepatitis B

Can lead to liver failure, liver cancer or cirrhosis.
Spread through bodily fluids.
Most adults recover fully. Infants and children are more likely to develop a chronic hepatitis B infection.
There is no cure although treatment and prevention options are available.

Hepatitis C

The most serious of the 3 viruses.
Most people have no symptoms and don't know they have hepatitis C infection until liver damage shows up decades later during routine medical tests.
This can happen faster if people's immune systems decline as they age.
Spread through contact with contaminated blood.

Hepatitis D

Transmitted thorough bodily fluids, usually through sex, contact with the blood of an infected person, sharing of sharp objects like needles, razors or syringes, and from mother to child in the womb.
Requires the presence of Hepatitis B virus to replicate, and hence is usually found together with Hepatitis B as a co-infection.
Not usually tested for in a clinical setting.
Treatment for Hepatitis B is equally effective for Hepatitis D.

Hepatitis E

Transmitted through the oral-faecal route, usually through contaminated drinking water and eating products from an infected animal.
Over 60% of infections occur in East and South Asia.
Symptoms: jaundice, anorexia, enlarged tender liver, abdominal pain and tenderness, nausea, vomiting and fever.
There is no treatment, but your immune system is usually able to get rid of the infection by itself.
Complications may arise in pregnant women.

(Sources: 
Mayo Clinic's infectious diseases expert Dr Stacey Rizza, healthNewsDigest.com,
WHO, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention,
Hepatologist Dr Syed Mohd Redha Syed Nasir)

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