While I don't know if there is any statistical evidence to prove it, but it seemed for awhile that there was an abundance of celebrities that were contracting Hepatitis. TMZ would have some story almost every month it seemed. Whether it was from these stories or if a friend/family member has contracted hepatitis, I thought it would benefit you to know a little more about what the disease is, and how it is contracted.
Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. The liver is a vital organ that helps filter toxins from your body. Hepatitis can be caused by numerous reasons including viruses, drugs, metabolic disorders and fatty infiltration. In this post, we will focus on viral hepatitis, specifically hepatitis A, B and C. All 3 forms of hepatitis are sexually transmitted and have similar symptoms initially.
Symptoms and Condition:
Some people are asymptomatic but when symptoms are present they can include: fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, and jaundice.
Hepatitis A differs from Hepatitis B and C in that it is self limiting and does not cause chronic disease. Hepatitis A is spread by ingestion of something that has been contaminated with feces of an infected person. For instance: by not washing your hands after using the restroom or changing diapers, then preparing or eating food.
There is a safe and effective immunization against hepatitis A and B available. The rates of new hepatitis B infections have declined 80% since 1991 when routine vaccination was initiated. Even though hepatitis B infections have dropped significantly, it is still an area of concern for African Americans. Blacks are almost twice as likely to die from viral hepatitis. Among all ethnic groups in 2006, African Americans had the highest incidence of hepatitis B.
Hepatitis B and C both can progress to a serious long term (chronic) illness that can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. Hepatitis B and C can be spread by sex with an infected partner, injection drug use, and birth from an infected mother, contact with blood or open sores of an infected person, needle sticks or sharp instrument exposures and sharing items such as razors or toothbrushes with an infected person.
Chronic hepatic C is the most common blood borne infection in the United States and the greatest prevalence of infection is in African Americans. Hepatitis C deaths in the United States have increased by over 100% in the last decade.
As noted earlier - hepatitis damages your liver, reducing its ability to filter those toxins in your body. If your body isn't filtering toxins out to be released from your body, then they are staying in your body. And that's not good. The problems extrapolate from there, as you can imagine.
Hepatitis A & B vaccinations require multiple shots, and it's important to take the shots as scheduled. The immunity (antibodies) will last for a long time, as much as thirty years or more. And if there is any concern - hepatitis vaccines have been given to millions of people all over the world - no serious side effects have been reported. They are safe.
If you are at risk of contracting hepatitis A or B, get the vaccine. The risk factors are fairly obvious - if you work with or are around people with hepatitis A or B, recreational drug use (injections or not), liver diseases, and a few others.
There is no vaccination for hepatitis C. Preventative measures are currently the only protection against it. Don't share needles or other equipment with recreational drugs (or just don't do recreational drugs), don't allow any non-sterilized instruments to pierce you (tattoos, piercings, etc.)
With proper management, people with hepatitis can live complete lives. You need to eat well, exercise - all things that help your immune system stay sharp, as that is a major part of what hepatitis can do damage to. Also, take care when taking any and all medications - follow your doctor's orders to the T.
A lot of the big issues with hepatitis is awareness - from contraction risks to management. The care is available to help you manage the disease and be healthy. Just be sure to make your regular appointments so that in case there is any contraction, you begin management immediately.
Dr. Danika Hickman