Hepatitis
  International awareness day May 19



Overview
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    Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that can be caused by viruses, chemicals, drugs, alcohol, inherited diseases, or the patient's own immune system.
    Source: Hepatitis (labtestsonline.org)

Causes
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    There are many causes of hepatitis:

    Infectious viral hepatitis such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, hepatitis D and hepatitis E, other viral diseases, severe bacterial infections, amoebic infections, various medicines (eg paracetamol poisoning), Toxins like alcohol, autoimmune hepatitis,Inborn metabolic disorders
    (Details: open / close)
    Source: Hepatitis (liver inflammation) (netdoctor.co.uk)

Epidemiology
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    Hepatitis A is the commonest form of viral hepatitis. It is most prevalent in Africa, South America, Middle East and south-east Asia. There is low prevalence in USA, north and west Europe, Australia and Japan.
    Source: WHO | Hepatitis A (who.int)

Prevention
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    Hepatitis A
    It is highly contagious. Preventing the spread of the virus involves protecting both yourself and others from infection:
    * Receive immune globulin or a hepatitis vaccine
    * Follow safety precautions for international travelers. Prevent infection by peeling and washing all your fresh fruits and vegetables yourself, avoid eating raw or undercooked meat and fish, drink bottled water and avoid ice cubes in beverages.
    * Practice good hygiene. Simply washing your hands well and often can help protect you from infection with a number of viruses and bacteria.

    If you have hepatitis A, the following measures can help prevent you from passing the virus to others:
    * Avoid sexual activity, wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet, use clean utensils, don't prepare food for others while you're actively infected.
    Source: Hepatitis A: Prevention - MayoClinic.com (mayoclinic.com)

    Hepatitis B
    For active vaccination, a harmless hepatitis B antigen is given to stimulate the body's immune system to produce protective antibodies against the surface antigen of hepatitis B. Hepatitis B vaccines are 95% effective.
    You can also protect yourself from hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection by avoiding contact with the body fluids of someone whose health and sexual history are not known to you

    Hepatitis C
    There is currently no vaccine for hepatitis C.
    Hepatitis C can also be prevented by avoiding exchange of body fluids.
    Source: Viral Hepatitis Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment by MedicineNet.com (medicinenet.com)

Symptoms
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    Some people who have hepatitis have no symptoms. Others may have

    * Loss of appetite
    * Nausea and vomiting
    * Diarrhea
    * Dark-colored urine and pale bowel movements
    * Stomach pain
    * Jaundice, yellowing of skin and eyes
    Source: MedlinePlus: Hepatitis (nlm.nih.gov)

Diagnosis
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    Your health care provider will ask you questions about your illness. You will be asked about your symptoms and about any possible exposures to hepatitis. If your health care provider determines that you may be at risk for contracting hepatitis, you will have blood drawn.
    * The blood will be tested to determine how well your liver is functioning.
    * A test will be done for antibody to hepatitis A. The test will show whether you have been exposed recently to HAV.
    * Your blood probably will be tested for the hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses as well.
    Source: Hepatitis A Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention Information on eMedicineHealth.com (emedicinehealth.com)

Treatment
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    Treatment of acute viral hepatitis and chronic viral hepatitis are different. Treatment of acute viral hepatitis involves relieving symptoms and maintaining adequate intake of fluids. Treatment of chronic viral hepatitis involves medications to eradicate the virus and taking measures to prevent further liver damage which can lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer.
    (Details: open / close)
    Source: Viral Hepatitis Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment by MedicineNet.com (medicinenet.com)

News
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Scientific Articles (a selection for patients)
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    Hepatitis B immunisation for newborn infants of hepatitis B surface antigen-positive mothers
    Lee C, Gong Y, Brok J, Boxall EH, Gluud C
    (Details: open / close)
    Source: Hepatitis B immunisation for newborn infants of hepatitis B surface antigen-positive mothers (cochrane.org)
    Interferon for acute hepatitis C
    Myers RP, Regimbeau C, Thevenot T, Leroy V, Mathurin P, Opolon P, Zarski JP, Poynard T
    (Details: open / close)
    Source: Interferon for acute hepatitis C (cochrane.org)

Medical Journals (for health professionals)
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