What You Need to Know About Hepatitis

What is hepatitis?

The starting point I always have in any discussion about hepatitis is to define exactly what hepatitis is. Very simply, hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. Just like any other medical term that ends with the suffix “itis”, it is the signal that we are talking about inflammation of a particular part of the body. For example, dermatitis is inflammation of the skin, sinusitis is inflammation of the sinuses, and bronchitis is inflammation of the bronchial tubes in the lung.

What are the different types of hepatitis

The focus of hepatitis awareness month is on viral hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Before I delve into those specific causes, let me get a few other forms of hepatitis out of the way.

Viral hepatitis

Regarding the three most common viral strains the first to discuss is hepatitis A. It is estimated that there are roughly 3,500 new infections each year. The good news is that hepatitis A has a very effective and safe vaccine that all children and adult should receive. Hepatitis A is spread through the fecal-oral route. In an infected person, hepatitis A is shed through their feces. Poor hand washing and sanitation will cross contaminate the stool from an infected person to another. This typically occurs with contaminated food or water, or handling other objects contaminated with the fecal matter from an infected person. Sex with an infected person can also result in transmission.

Going beyond hepatitis awareness month

So during this hepatitis awareness month, it is my hope that we continue to raise attention every day of the week regarding the diseases that affect the liver, and what you need to do to avoid liver damage and maintain a healthy liver. The ongoing stigma associated with liver disease needs to be overcome, and the only way we can do that is by arming our friends and neighbors with the information that they need to have.

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