Knowing the Difference Between Hepatitis A, B and C
Hepatitis A is the most easily transmitted of the three viruses. It is usually spread through contaminated food or water, and is found in the feces of infected people. It causes a short-term, acute sickness that most people heal from without treatment. However, it can cause serious illness in some individuals. It is most common in places with poor sanitation and hygiene practices. There is a safe and effective vaccine available to protect against hepatitis A.
Hepatitis B is present in several bodily fluids and can be spread through sexual activity or exposure to infected blood. It can also be passed from a mother to her newborn child during birth. Hepatitis B usually causes a short-term ailment that many people recover from completely after about 4 to 8 weeks. However, it can develop into a chronic condition that lasts for years; this is more likely in older patients. There is a safe vaccine available against hepatitis B as well.
Hepatitis C causes a chronic illness in most people who get it, although a small percentage do fight off the virus during the acute stages. It is the least transmissible of the three viruses and can only be spread through contact with infected blood. It is most common in people who engage in intravenous drug use. People who received blood transfusions prior to 1992 should also be tested for it if they never have been. Hepatitis C can also be spread through unsafe sex, but this is uncommon. As of 2015, there is no cure for chronic hepatitis C, nor is there a vaccine against it.
Hepatitis C may seriously affect liver function. It can cause cirrhosis, which means that normal liver tissue is replaced with scar tissue. It can also cause liver cancer. However, there are medications that can help keep the disease in check. Lifestyle changes, such as reducing or eliminating alcohol from your diet, can also decrease the chances of serious complications. The most severe cases may require liver transplants.
Viral hepatitis is a topic that many people do not fully understand, but it can be important. Chronic hepatitis often has few symptoms in its early stages, so recognizing the associated dangers and getting tested if you may have been exposed can save your life. Although there are five types of viral hepatitis, only A, B and C are commonly found in the United States and other developed nations.
Hepatitis can be a serious and frightening illness, but understanding the different types and the risk factors for each can help you gauge your likelihood of contracting the virus. Although anyone can catch hepatitis A by way of contaminated food and water, hepatitis B and C are more difficult to catch and are most common in intravenous drug users. If you think you may be at risk of contracting hepatitis, contact your doctor for more information.