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Running with Illness: Hepatitis

Updated on April 21, 2007

In terms of physiology, it is clear that many of the factors that weigh heavily on exercise performance-particularly hydration levels, blood-sugar levels, and cardiopulmonary status-are the same ones chiefly affected by certain disease states. Hepatitis is an increasingly common illness, with newer forms of the virus continually being found, and this illness can make it hard to keep up a running routine.

Some types of Hepatitis resolve completely in weeks or months, while others must be managed over a period of years. Hepatitis causes liver damage. The condition can be self limiting, healing on its own or can progress to scarring of liver. Acute hepatitis can last less than 6 months, however some with chronic hepatitis may battle it most of their lives. This group of viruses known as the cause most liver damages worldwide.

Due to the fact that the illness is attacking the liver runners must be very careful not to overextend themselves, causing more internal damage. It is important that you work with your doctor to decide when and how much running is right for you. Hepatitis can be difficult for many runners because it does that so much time away from running, however it is important with a disease of this sort not to push to hard, and if able to run to slowly ease back into it. Hepatitis B is perhaps the most worrisome, but if liver function (as determined by a blood test) returns to normal, most doctors would agree that there should be no harm in returning slowly to running.

Symptoms include: malaise, joint aches, abdominal pain, vomiting 2-3 times per day for the first 6 days, loss of appetite, dark urine, fever, hepatomegaly (enlarged liver) and jaundice (icterus, yellowing of the eyes and skin). Some chronic forms of hepatitis show very few of these signs and are only present when the longstanding inflammation has led to the replacement of liver cells by connective tissue; this disease process is referred to as cirrhosis of the liver. (Certain liver function tests can also indicate hepatitis).

World Hepatitis Awareness Day 2006, observed the first Sunday of October, is a great day to RUN! This day has been has been designated by hepatitis patient associations around the world as a day on which to raise awareness about hepatitis and demand action to curb the spread of the disease and treat people who are infected.

Use this opportunity to find a 5K in your area (or organize one) to help raise awareness about hepatitis and to help support the research for treatments and cures. Around the world almost 600 million people are infected with either hepatitis B or C. Both forms of viral hepatitis can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver transplantation and yet both can often be treated effectively, and in many cases, even cured.

More information about World Hepatitis Awareness Day can be found at: http://www.worldhepatitisawarenessday.com/

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