HEPATITIS

The liver is a complex organ central to the maintenance of homeostasis. The liver is the largest organ in the body. The main functions of the liver include protein synthesis, storage and metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, detoxification of drugs, toxins, the excretion of bilirubin and metabolism of hormones.

Hepatitis is defined as the inflammation of the liver. Inflamation has multiple causes. Heptitis may present as an acute illness with jaundice, fever and persistent malaise.

CAUSES OF HEPATITIS

*Viruses ( Hepatitis A,B,C,D and E)

*Drugs

*Alcohol

*Autoimmune

TYPES OF HEPATITIS

*Hepatitis A : Hepatitis A  virus is particularly prevalent in areas of poor  sanitation, and often associated with water and food-borne epidemics. Hepatitis A has a relatively short incubation period of 2–7 weeks, during which time the virus multiplies and abnormalities in liver function tests can be detected.  Heptitis A virus may go unnoticed by the patient in the absence of an icteric episode, particularly in children.

*Hepatitis B(HBV): Currently, over 500 million people worldwide are infected with HBV,with increasing prevalence each year.  Chronic HBV is defined as the presence of hepatitis B surface antigens (HBsAg) for a period of more than 6 months. In Africa and the Far East,  about 15–20% of the population are chronic carriers of HBV and exposure to HBV at birth (vertical  transmission) is the most important risk factor for the development of chronic HBV infection. Acquiring HBV in adulthood is often via sexual transmission and  parenterally, by the transfusion of blood or blood products from contaminated stocks and by intravenous drug use or needle sharing.

*Hepatitis C (HCV) : Up to 170 million people worldwide are chronically infected with heptitis C virus (HCV). HCV is transmitted parenterally, most commonly through intravenous drug use and the sharing of contaminated needles, contaminated blood and blood products. The vertical transmission rate from HCV infected mother to child is less as compared to HBV transmission from mother to child.

*Hepatitis D: Hepatitis D virus (HDV) is an incomplete virus that can establish infection only in patients concurrently infected by HBV. The mode of transmission is through sexual intercourse and intra-venous drug users. Most patients are  unaware of the infection or the timing of when they contracted the virus. Common symptoms associated with HDV infection tend to be malaise, weakness and anorexia being most commonly reported.

*Hepatitis E: Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is predominantly found in India, Asia, the Middle East and parts of Latin America. The symptoms of HEV are no different from other causes of viral hepatitis, with an average incubation period of 42 days.

SYMPTOMS

Hepatitis most often presents with symptoms such as;

*Confusion

*Fatigue

*Itching

*Pale stools

* Yellow or dark colored urine

*Nausea and vomiting

*Anorexia

*Recurrent fever

*Malaise

SIGNS

The signs of hepatitis includes;

*Jaundice

*Abdominal tenderness and enlargement

*Increase in liver size.

*Skin bruising

PREVENTION

*Avoid the sharing of toothbrushes,sharps,blades,needles, body piercings, tattoos, cultural scarification and circumcisions.

*Conduct annual screening

*Get vaccinated.The vaccine begins to protect 4 weeks after you receive the first dose. A 6- to 12-month booster is required for long-term protection.

*Avoid alcohol.

*Always wash your hands thoroughly after using the restroom and when you come in contact with an infected person’s blood, stools, or other bodily fluid.

*Avoid unclean food and water.

*Practice frequent and proper  hands washing  before and after each diaper change, before serving food, and after using the restroom.

*Avoid unclean food and water

*Avoid dairy products.

*Avoid raw or undercooked meat and fish.

*Beware of sliced fruit that may have been washed in contaminated water. Travelers should peel all fresh fruits and vegetables themselves.

*Avoid  buying food from street vendors.

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