World Hepatitis Day!

On Friday, July 28th, the entire world celebrates “World Hepatitis Day” as a way to draw more awareness to viral hepatitis, which is a group of infectious diseases that affect nearly 400 million people worldwide. Depending on the type and severity of the case, hepatitis can cause acute or chronic liver disease and results in the death of 1.4+ million people every year.

Viral hepatitis is one of the most dangerous diseases out there, taking 7th place as the leading cause of death in 2013 (up from 10th in 1990).

Signs, Symptoms, and Diagnosis of Hepatitis

There are different forms of viral hepatitis, and each type will have more prevalent symptoms and signs than others. However, there are some common symptoms across the different types of hepatitis that you can look for.

  • Feeling overall fatigued
  • Losing your appetite
  • Abnormal pain in your stomach
  • Vomiting and feeling nauseas
  • Running a mild fever
  • Feeling aches in your muscles and/or joints
  • Itchy feelings
  • Darker urine than usual
  • Lighter colored stools than usual
  • Yellowing of the skin (and of the whites of eyes), also known as “Jaundice”
  • Finding yourself in a daze/stupor/coma or other mental changes
  • Experiencing internal bleeding

If at any point you are noticing these signs and symptoms of hepatitis in yourself or someone you know, consult with a doctor. It’s better to get tested and to test negative than to avoid visiting the doctor when you may have hepatitis or any other medical condition.

If you do have hepatitis and don’t seek treatment, cirrhosis may develop in your body, which results in significant and severe scarring of your liver.

The sooner you or someone you know gets diagnosed, the sooner you can begin treatment. Avoiding diagnosis when you may have hepatitis is dangerous, as hepatitis is contagious and you could infect others (or someone in your family could infect you).

Treatment for Hepatitis

Each form of hepatitis requires different types of hepatitis treatment. Whether or not it’s acute or chronic can also impact the type of treatment that is required.

“Acute hepatitis” requires a significant amount of resting, ensuring that you’re consuming enough fluids, and reducing the severity of symptoms (e.g., reducing fever). We recommend consulting with your doctor before taking medication to reduce those symptoms, as some may actually react adversely with other medications or those with different liver functions.

“Chronic hepatitis” on the other hand is a little more involved, requiring medications in order to get rid of the virus and using methods recommended by your doctor to reduce or prevent future liver damage.

In both cases, medication should only be consumed if it’s a “must,” as the liver is typically not operating optimally in these points. This can result in an increased risk of elevated toxicity in the bloodstream due to medications not being fully filtered through the liver. Consumption of alcohol and smoking cigarettes should also be halted in order to avoid further aggravating the liver and liver disease.

Getting Vaccinated for Hepatitis

Vaccinations are an important part of anyone’s life, which is why it’s important that you and family members are properly vaccinated for hepatitis and other life-threatening diseases. Getting a vaccination is easy and can save your family from a world of medical complications. The CDC and other vaccination specialists have recommended vaccination schedules for both children and adults.

If you’re not vaccinated, it’s not too late – simply contact your local doctor and schedule an appointment for a vaccination to see how you can get caught up on any vaccinations you may have missed. If you have young children that haven’t been vaccinated or you’re about to have a child, make sure to consult with your doctor and ask about vaccinations for children.

To learn more about hepatitis, to schedule an appointment to be tested for hepatitis, or to seek treatment for hepatitis for yourself or someone you know, give us a call at North County Health Services. We help children with our vaccinations for children as well as adults in our health clinics. Call today to get started!