Learn About Hepatitis: Types, Symptoms, and How to Prevent It

You have probably heard of hepatitis before, an inflammatory condition that affects the liver and can have serious consequences for health if not managed properly. 

In case you didn’t know, the liver is an organ that performs many important functions in our body, including:

  • Production of bile, which is essential for digestion.
  • Filtration of toxins from your body.
  • Excretion of bilirubin (a product of broken-down red blood cells), cholesterol, hormones, and drugs.
  • Breakdown of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
  • Activation of enzymes, which are specialized proteins essential for bodily functions.
  • Storage of vitamins.
  • Production of hormones.
  • Synthesis of plasma proteins like albumin.
  • Synthesis of blood clotting factors.

For this reason, paying attention to the proper functioning of our liver can affect our quality of life in many ways.

Get to know the types of hepatitis

Did you know that there are several types of hepatitis? When we talk about hepatitis, we are not referring to a single condition with a single cause. Hepatitis is mainly caused by viral infections and can also result from autoimmune, metabolic, or toxic factors. For this reason, there are several types, with the most common being:

Hepatitis A: It is mainly transmitted through the consumption of contaminated water or food.

Hepatitis B: This form spreads through contact with infected blood or bodily fluids, such as unprotected sex or sharing needles. Symptoms may include:

Hepatitis C: It is usually transmitted through direct contact with infected blood, often through injected drugs, sexual contact, or needlestick injuries.

Hepatitis D: This variant only affects those who already have hepatitis B since the D virus needs the presence of the B virus to replicate. Its mode of transmission is similar to that of hepatitis B.

Hepatitis E: It is mainly transmitted through contaminated water and is more common in areas with poor sanitation.

Alcoholic hepatitis: As the name suggests, it is related to excessive alcohol consumption.

Toxic hepatitis: It can be caused by poisons, chemicals, medications, or supplements.

Autoimmune hepatitis: This occurs when the immune system attacks the liver. While its causes are unknown, genetic and environmental factors may influence the onset of this condition.

What Are the Symptoms of Hepatitis?

The symptoms of hepatitis can vary depending on the type and severity of the infection. It’s important to note that in some cases, hepatitis can be asymptomatic, which is why it’s important to undergo regular exams to have timely diagnosis and treatment.

Some common symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dark urine
  • Pale stools
  • Joint pain
  • Jaundice
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Itching

Many of these symptoms can occur in everyday life and may be associated with many other conditions. That’s why it’s important to pay attention and seek medical attention to know precisely what’s causing them.

Why is early diagnosis of hepatitis important?

Early diagnosis of hepatitis allows for the prevention of serious complications. In many cases, people can have hepatitis for years without realizing it due to the lack of obvious symptoms. Early detection through medical tests and blood tests allows for timely intervention and the start of appropriate treatment if necessary.

You may also like: 5 Reasons Why Annual Physical Exams Are Important

How to prevent hepatitis?

Preventing hepatitis doesn’t involve extreme measures. Adopting certain measures will help you avoid exposure to the viruses responsible for the infection. Pay attention to the following guidelines:

Get vaccinated

The hepatitis A and B vaccines are available and highly effective in preventing infection. Vaccination is especially recommended for those in high-risk groups.

Practice good personal hygiene

Wash your hands regularly, consume potable water, and make sure that food is properly cooked to avoid food and waterborne hepatitis.

Practice safe sex

Use barrier methods, such as condoms, during sexual activity to reduce the risk of transmission of hepatitis B and other sexually transmitted infections.

Don’t share needles

If you use intravenous drugs, never share needles or equipment for injecting.

Demand hygiene practices in healthcare

Make sure that healthcare staff follows safe infection control practices if you need medical procedures involving blood or bodily fluids.

Hepatitis is a disease that can have serious implications for health, but prevention and early diagnosis can make a difference.

Don’t wait for serious complications. 

Remember that hepatitis can cause your liver to stop functioning normally, which can greatly affect your life and even cause death. Adopting a healthy lifestyle, good personal hygiene habits, practicing responsible sexual activity, and undergoing regular medical checkups are key to diagnosing and treating diseases like hepatitis on time, especially if it presents asymptomatically.

If you identify any of these symptoms or have suspicions of having contracted hepatitis, it’s essential that you seek medical attention, and the sooner, the better. Remember that at Formé Medical Center, we have specialists who can help you with the diagnosis and treatment of this disease. Don’t hesitate to call us at 914-723-4900 or schedule an appointment.