Catching hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver, early can make a big difference in managing the disease. Fortunately, you can learn about the initial warning signs with an online search, helping you stay one step ahead of this virus.
The virus often starts quietly, showing subtle signs that are easy to miss after you’re first infected. This makes it all the more important to know how the various types of hepatitis and their symptoms appear in the body.
What is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis exists in five basic forms: hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. Globally, the disease is responsible for more than 1.3 million deaths per year, and approximately 2.4 million people get hepatitis C in the U.S. every year. You can be at risk for hepatitis if you live with, have close personal contact with or have sex with an infected person, as it’s spread through blood and bodily fluids. The disease can also be spread through contaminated food or water. To find out more about hepatitis, you can learn more online.
The hepatitis C virus (HCV) can be spread through contaminated blood. In the past, blood transfusions and the sharing of needles were among the main causes of HCV infection.
According to a CDC report, older adults born between 1945 and 1965 are five times more likely to have hepatitis than younger adults, as minimal testing was performed during the 1970s and 1980s. In the past, donated blood and organs were not screened as thoroughly as they are today.
Importance of Understanding the Early Signs of Hepatitis
Should you discover that you are a carrier, it’s vital that you take the necessary steps to prevent the disease from spreading and start treatment. Time is of the essence; if you wait too long, you may suffer liver damage or even develop liver cancer. If you discover that you have a form of hepatitis that has progressed to the chronic stage, it is important that you learn how to manage the disease. You can learn more about how to manage hepatitis by reading more online.
Signs and Symptoms of Hepatitis
Most people with hepatitis C don’t even realize that they have it. As many as 80 percent of all people affected with hepatitis C have no symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they tend to appear within the first few weeks or months after infection. These signs and symptoms include:
- Feelings of exhaustion
- Poor appetite
- Sore muscles
- Stomach pain
- Joint pain
- Dark urine
- Itchy skin
Treatment Option: Antiviral Medication
Antiviral medications can be effective in treating hepatitis. These pills are usually taken once per day and work very well at attacking the virus and preventing it from multiplying. The goal of such medications is to clear a person’s body of the virus, stop or slow down damage to a person’s liver and reduce the chance of developing cirrhosis, which involves scarring of the liver.
Recently, new direct-acting antiviral medications have produced better outcomes, shorter treatment times, and fewer side effects. You can learn more about the specific medications available with some additional research.
Treatment Option: Liver Transplant
When hepatitis has progressed to the point that it has caused significant liver damage or liver failure, it may be necessary to consider a liver transplant. During such a procedure, a surgeon will remove your liver and replace it with one that has been donated from a donor. However, the replacement is only the first step in curing the disease, because the virus is likely to return if additional steps are not taken, such as going on a regimen of post-surgery antiviral medications designed to prevent damage to the transplanted liver.
New medications are being developed every day, and some have been demonstrated to be very effective, as well as fast-acting. Antivirals are also frequently used on patients prior to liver transplant surgery.
Although there is no vaccine for hepatitis C, you should be vaccinated against both hepatitis A and B viruses. The hepatitis A vaccine consists of two doses given six months apart and can protect a person for more than 40 years. Children can be vaccinated when they are about one year old.
The hepatitis B vaccine can be administered as a stand-alone vaccine or in combination with a hepatitis A vaccine. The stand-alone version will protect adults, children, and infants from hepatitis B. The combination vaccine will protect adults from both hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
Do Your Research
If you are at risk for hepatitis, you owe it to yourself to get tested and explore all possible treatment avenues. New drugs are being developed all the time that are very effective at combating hepatitis with very few side effects. Start a search to learn more about the different types of hepatitis and take control of your health.