Viral hepatitis is a family of serious diseases that cause inflammation of the liver and liver damage. Known as infectious hepatitis, it is caused by a virus and is the most common type of hepatitis that can be transferred from person to person.
Viral hepatitis can reduce the liver’s capability to play its vital role which involves helping the body to fight infection, clear the toxins, store energy, produce healthy blood, curb bleeding, digest food and remove waste.
Here are seven facts you must know about viral hepatitis:
1. There are 9 different types of viral hepatitis
While there are five major ones namely, hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E which are more commonly found, there are also some rare and more severe viral hepatitis diseases caused by hepatitis E, X, G, Chronic hepatitis B and C.
2. Chronic hepatitis isn’t necessarily symptomatic
It is diagnosed after the condition lasts longer than six months. There are no major symptoms apart from vague signs of malaise, fatigue, and nonspecific upper abdominal discomfort which can be easily dismissed as a minor ailment.
3. Acute hepatitis can give you jaundice
Unlike chronic cases of viral hepatitis, acute hepatitis is very quick with showing symptoms. This occurs when bilirubin, an orange-colored waste material produced by the normal breakdown of red blood cells, builds up in the blood due to lowered functionality of the liver. This can be characterized by yellowish skin, eyes, and nails.
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4. You can take vaccines to prevent infection
Generally, a vaccine is taken in two doses with a gap of six to eighteen months. The hepatitis vaccine is doled out in three shots over six months. However, these vaccines can only protect us from hepatitis A and B.
5. A vaccine for Hepatitis C hasn’t been developed yet
Over the years, scientists have identified at least six genetically distinct types of the virus and about 50 different sub-types which makes it really difficult to come up with a vaccine. So, even though Hepatitis C is the most common form of viral hepatitis, there’s still no vaccine for it.
6. The long term effects of a hepatitis infection are deadly
Even when symptoms aren’t very significantly evident, hepatitis takes its toll on the liver. One of the more dire outcomes of this condition is cirrhosis, caused when scar tissue starts to overtake healthy tissue inside the liver which in turn stops the liver from functioning properly. This leads to swollen feet, increased blood pressure, chronic bruising and bleeding, and the poisoning of the brain.
7. Viral hepatitis causes more deaths than malaria
There are more than 325 million people around the world living with viral hepatitis and that’s roughly equivalent to 4 percent of Earth’s population. Every year, the disease leads to 1.34 million fatalities, which makes it deadlier than HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria.