What is Hepatitis?
Globally, around 1.5 million people each year are infected with Hepatitis, according to one estimate, while a total of 300 million are chronically infected. Yet, most people don’t know they’re living with the virus despite being a common disease.
850,000 Americans live with Hepatitis B, whereas an estimated 2.4 million live with Hepatitis C. The actual numbers could be as high as 2.2 million and 4.7 million, respectively. At least two people die every minute due to Hepatitis B.
Hepatitis is a liver disease that causes inflammation due to viral infection. Although viral infection is the most common cause, other possible reasons also exist. For example, autoimmune Hepatitis occurs due to secondary results of drugs, alcohol, medication, and toxins. It develops when the body forms antibodies against liver tissues.
Types of Hepatitis
According to WHO, 354 million global population lives with Hepatitis B, and C. other classifications include Hepatitis A, D, and E. Each is attributed to a different type of virus.
Hepatitis A is an infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus (HAV). This is an acute, short-term condition that is prevented with a vaccine. A person can contract HAV by coming in contact with an infected person or through contaminated water or food.
This condition is caused by the Hepatitis B virus (HBV). It’s a chronic, ongoing condition, and according to CDC, approximately 826,000 people live with chronic Hepatitis B in the US and 257 million globally. Contact with personal items, sexual intercourse, or HVB in body fluids develops this condition.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) causes this condition. Hepatitis C is a common blood-borne infection in the US. It’s a long-term chronic disease that affects 2.4 million Americans, according to CDC. A person can contract this infection by being in contact with the infected person’s body fluids, sexual intercourse, or sharing personal items.
Hepatitis D virus (HDV) causes this condition. It’s a rare condition that develops only in conjunction with HBV. Only 5% of people are globally infected with Hepatitis D. Contact with HDV infected blood is the common route of transmission.
This is a waterborne condition caused by the Hepatitis E virus (HEV). Poor sanitation is the main cause of HEV. It is mainly developed from ingesting fecal matter in the water supply. Hepatitis E is not common in the US. It’s an acute condition that can be especially dangerous for expecting women.
Apart from viral Hepatitis, other non-infectious causes can also develop liver inflammation:
- Alcohol & toxins: alcohol consumption also causes inflammation and damage. Excessive drinking damages liver cells and leads to scarring and thickening of liver tissue. Misuse of medication and drugs also damages the liver.
- Autoimmune system: this condition occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the liver, which causes ongoing inflammation. The mild to severe inflammation hinders normal liver function. This condition is more common in women.
Common symptoms of Hepatitis include:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Pale stool
- Dark urine
- Appetite loss
- Abdominal pain
- Unplanned weight loss
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