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Hepatitis A, B, C

Across the world, almost 300 million people are living with viral hepatitis and don’t know. Hepatitis, in its simplest definition, involves swelling or inflammation of the liver. Most common are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. The three types refer to the strain of virus that causes the inflammation. And each type can be considered a unique disease that responds to varying therapies. In the US, most babies are vaccinated for hepatitis A and B, so cases are less common here than in other parts of the world.

Differences Between Hepatitis A, B, and C

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is highly transmissible and typically infects people who eat or drink something that has been in contact with feces or another infected person. Although very contagious, it is not as dangerous as other forms of hepatitis. Hepatitis A can be avoided with a vaccine and can be treated by a healthcare professional.

Symptoms of Hepatitis A include unintentional weight loss, loss of appetite, pain in the abdominal area, dark urine, yellow eyes and/or yellow skin, exhaustion, fever, and diarrhea. The standard treatment protocol for hepatitis A is to rest, drink fluids, and avoid alcoholic beverages. In most instances, hepatitis A will clear up on its own. To avoid getting hepatitis A, individuals can receive a hepatitis A vaccine.

Hepatitis B

Spread through blood, saliva, sexual fluids, or passed from mother to baby, Hepatitis B is a more serious form of viral hepatitis. In the absence of medical care, it has the potential to lead to liver failure or liver cancer. If adults get hepatitis B, their bodies should be able to fight it off over the course of a few months. When the virus has diminished, you become immune. If exposed at birth, however, the condition is unlikely to resolve itself.

Common signs and symptoms of hepatitis B are jaundice, pain in the abdominal area, decreased appetite, light-colored stool, aching joints, vomiting, persistent fatigue, and fever. A Hepatitis B vaccine is available to prevent this virus.

Hepatitis C

Usually passed on through bodily fluids (like blood), hepatitis C is an additional virus that can cause damage to the liver. Hepatitis C can occur in two separate types, acute hepatitis C or chronic hepatitis C.

  • Acute hepatitis C is the less serious form that frequently takes six months to subside. Afterward, most individuals' natural immune response will overcome the virus.
  • Chronic hepatitis C happens when a person's natural defenses are unable to fend off the virus within the first six months and it impacts the body for a prolonged amount of time. This type of hepatitis C could lead to more long-term medical diseases such as liver cirrhosis.

Common hepatitis C symptoms include bleeding easily, swelling in the legs, nausea and vomiting, clay-colored stool, confusion, itchy skin, and extreme fatigue. Additional symptoms can include bruising easily, slurred speech, decreased appetite, abdominal pain, joint pain, jaundice, and unintentional weight loss. The treatment cure rate of hepatitis C is over 90%. The routine treatment approaches for hepatitis C consist of antiviral drugs or liver transplants for chronic cases.

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