10/26/2009 - Questions and Answers

Hepatitis

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Question

I am so confused about hepatitis and need to understand. A friend of mine has hepatitis B and I have now been diagnosed with hepatitis C. What is the difference between hepatitis B and C ?

Answer

Hepatitis is the Latin word for liver inflammation. Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by viruses, toxic substances, or immunological abnormalities.
 

Hepatitis C is transmitted by infected blood or blood products contaminating hypodermic needles or tattooing needles, blood transfusions or by sexual contact if blood is involved. It often occurs in drug addicts. Hepatitis C is not transmitted by ordinary social contact such as hugging, kissing, shaking hands, sharing food and drinks, using the same cutlery and plates, using the same shower and toilet facilities, and using the same towels and washing machine.
 

It is better not to share razors, toothbrushes , needles, or any items able to be contaminated by blood. If one has hepatitis C, one should clean and cover cuts with waterproof dressing. Spilt blood should be cleaned up using paper towels and bleach straight from the bottle. Bloodstained items such as bandaids, dressing, tampons and pads should be secured in plastic bags before going into a bin. Many people with hepatitis C don't have symptoms. However, some people with hepatitis C feel like they have the flu. So, you might feel tired, feel sick, not want to eat, have stomach pain, have a fever, have diarrhea. Some people have dark yellow urine, light-colored stools, yellowish eyes and skin.
 

As with any chronic disease, maintaining the best physical and psychological health will help you cope with any symptoms and illness. Although there is no proven link between diet and progression of hepatitis C, some people with the condition do report feeling better when avoiding fatty foods. Avoiding alcohol use, eating a healthy balanced diet, planned exercise, managing stress, discussing and sharing emotions, getting adequate rest will all help to keep you as healthy as possible. Alcohol use is probably the most important factor because alcohol is a poison to the liver.
 

Unless taken as directed, some prescribed and over the counter medications can be harmful to a damaged liver. Some medications may seriously damage the liver when taken in high doses or for too long. It is therefore important to consult with your doctor or pharmacist about current medications, or any proposed medications, and follow the directions carefully.
 

Hepatitis B virus (HBV), can cause lifelong infection, cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, liver cancer and liver failure. Hepatitis B virus can be spread in the following ways: By contact with blood from an infected person - transfusion of infected blood and blood products or by contaminated needles used by drug addicts, tattooists or acupuncturists - By sexual contact with an infected person - From a pregnant woman to her child during delivery.
 

Type B hepatitis is highly infectious and can, in rare cases, be spread among family members without sexual contact or contact with infected blood. In these cases, the virus is probably spread by toothbrushes or kissing The virus can also be contracted by a person, mostly health care workers, accidentally pricking themselves with a contaminated needle.
 

The incubation period, from the time of exposure to the virus until the onset of the disease, is two to six months. Early symptoms include poor appetite, lack of interest in food, nausea, aching muscles and joints, and mild fever. Later symptoms include yellowing of the skin, mucous membranes, and white portions of the eyes (jaundice, icterus); light-coloured stools; and dark urine. When the late symptoms have developed, the patient usually begins to get better. In approximately 1 out of 20 patients, the infection becomes chronic. Patients with chronic type B hepatitis may have only mild symptoms, such as tiredness, aching muscles and joints and periodical pressure below the right ribs from the enlarged liver. Approximately one fifth of the patients develop cirrhosis over a number of years which may result in liver failure and other serious complications. See related links below.
 

Related Links
Hepatitis C
Hepatitis B
HBV-further information

Created on: 07/10/2006
Reviewed on: 10/26/2009

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Anonymous wrote 1 year 38 weeks ago

I didn't know that clothes washed along with Hepa-infected clothing could infect a person that will wear it. that's scary...

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