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Hepatitis - A Concern Both Abroad And At Home

Updated on April 20, 2011

Risks for Hepatitis

Hepatitis is not something you need to be concerned about only when traveling abroad. Although this illness is more likely to be prevalent in areas where sanitary conditions are inferior, right here at home we are likely to fall victim to this liver inflammation if we indulge in unsafe behaviors and fail to follow proper procedures for our own day to day cleanliness when eating and preparing food.

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver which can cause fever, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, extreme fatigue and jaundice, or no symptoms at all. A darkening of the urine is and easily visible symptom. Although it seems to be increasing in some regard, the actual number of cases of Hepatitis is decreasing, as individuals become aware of the causes and take measure to protect themselves.

Many cases of Hepatitis are very mild and individuals may show few or no symptoms. The disease is contagious and spreads easily in places where large groups, especially young children, congregate. It is believed that once you have contracted and survived Hepatitis, you will be immune for life.

Hepatitis A is contracted by ingesting water of food that has been contaminated with fecal matter. Much of this is due to food or water contaminated by sewage runoff. In many cases it is impossible to pinpoint the exact source from which the contamination originated.

Hepatitis A is usually self limiting and resolves on its own. However, as age increases, so does the severity of the illness and the risk of death. Although the disease may last only a couple of months, full recovery can take up to a year. Death from Hepatitis A is rare but does increase with age.

Hepatitis B is about one hundred times more infectious than aids.  It is caused by infection from blood or body fluids and includes sexual transmission.  Hepatitis B is especially dangerous because it often shows no symptoms and can leave victims susceptible to cirrhosis of the liver.  Even though the infection eventually seems to clear, If the infection was acute, there can be long term complications.

With Hepatitis B, mortality is about two percent.  Hepatitis B is most common in those under forty years of age.

Hepatitis C is also caused by contract with infected blood or bodily fluids.  If the body is not able to clear the infection quickly, the condition may become chronic.  Once chronic, liver damage or cirrhosis occurs.

Hepatitis C very seldom shows any symptoms whatsoever until liver damage has already occurred.

Vaccines There are vaccines for hepatitis A and B.  Unfortunately there is as yet no vaccine for Hepatitis C.  If you already have Hepatitis C, it may be wise to get the vaccine for A and B, just to save yourself the additional risk.  Whether or not to get the vaccine for Hepatitis A and B is a decision you must make, based on your risks and the potential danger to your health if you contract this disease.  Discuss your concerns with your family physician.


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      Cindy Murdoch 6 years ago from Texas

      This is a well written article. I contracted hepatitis C, most likely through a blood transfusion in 1974 before they tested the blood supply for it. I was diagnosed about 25 years later. I was miraculously healed of it shortly thereafter. When they did the biopsy to determine the extent the disease had caused, they found that my liver was scarred but healing from the disease.