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World Hepatitis Day 2021: FAQs On Viral Hepatitis

Viral hepatitis is the name given to a viral infection that causes liver inflammation and damage. There are different types of hepatitis viruses that infect the liver out of which hepatitis A, B and C are the most common.

Hepatitis A virus causes short-term diseases and is acute while hepatitis B and C viruses may cause chronic conditions and last longer. In this article, we will discuss some of the frequently asked questions about viral hepatitis.

1. What are the 5 types of hepatitis?

Ans: The five types of hepatitis are classified as hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. According to the WHO, hepatitis B and C are of great concern and they may lead to a greater number of deaths.

2. What is the most common viral hepatitis?

Ans: Hepatitis A, B and C are among the most common viral hepatitis. According to the CDC, each year hepatitis A affects 6700 new people, hepatitis B 22100 and hepatitis C 44300 new people.

3. How do you contract hepatitis A?

Ans: Hepatitis A virus mainly spreads through contaminated food and water. The virus is present in the faeces of infected individuals. Poor sanitisation and poor hygiene can lead to severe and life-threatening HAV infection. [1]

4. How is hepatitis B spread?

Ans: Hepatitis B mainly spreads through infected bodily fluids which may include blood, semen, vaginal discharge, saliva and others. The HAB virus also gets transferred from infected mothers to children during birth, blood transfusion, contaminated injections and through injected drugs.

5. How soon do hepatitis symptoms appear?

Ans: Hepatitis shows no or mild symptoms at the beginning but may silently become severe in later phases of life. The symptoms include fever, diarrhoea, nausea, dark-coloured urine, jaundice, itchy skin and others. People with HBV and HCV usually don't have symptoms at the acute stage of infection.

However, the infection progresses with time and become chronic leading to liver cirrhosis, liver cancer and even death.

6. Which hepatitis is not curable?

Ans: Hepatitis A, B and C in acute form can be cured without any damage to the liver. There's a vaccine to prevent HBV, however, if a person develops hepatitis B, it is very hard to cure. Also, HCV goes unnoticed for years without symptoms and later cause cirrhosis, failure or cancer of the liver.

7. Does viral hepatitis go away?

Ans: An acute form of hepatitis A, B and C may cause mild symptoms for a few months and go away on their own or with proper medications and vaccines. Hepatitis A usually causes acute infection while hepatitis B and C may turn into chronic. The thing is, when they both turn chronic, it becomes very hard to manage the condition.

8. How do you treat viral hepatitis?

Ans: Hepatitis A and E usually don't require treatment as they is short-term and go away with proper nutrition and hydration. For hepatitis B and C, antiviral medications are suggested. The chronic form of hepatitis C requires a liver transplant. For hepatitis D, no exact drug is developed yet.

Vaccines are the best way to prevent hepatitis A and B at an early stage. No vaccines for hepatitis C, D and E are developed yet. Therefore, the best way is to avoid conditions that may lead to the infection.

9. How is viral hepatitis diagnosed?

Ans: The first step to viral hepatitis diagnosis is a physical examination of the symptoms with a medical history of patients. Blood tests, CT scan, ultrasound and liver biopsy is suggested according to the severity of the patient.

10. Is viral hepatitis an STD?

Ans: Sexually Transmitted Disease or STD is a disease mainly transmitted through sexual contact or during intercourse. Hepatitis B and C are mainly caused by sex or contact with infected body fluids such as semen, vaginal discharge and saliva. [2]

11. Can hepatitis be transmitted through kissing?

Ans: Kissing is not regarded as a risk factor for hepatitis, especially HBV and HCV. However, if a person has bleeding gums or open sores in the mouth and infected by hepatitis virus, they may transfer the disease to their partner.

12. How can you prevent hepatitis?

Ans: The best ways to prevent hepatitis are the following:

  • By maintaining a good personal hygiene
  • If visiting another country, avoid local water, uncooked seafood and raw vegetables
  • Avoid sharing razors
  • Avoid sharing drug needles
  • Avoid sharing toothbrushes
  • Practise safe sex by using condoms
  • Avoid sex with multiple partners
  • Take vaccines for hepatitis B
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