Monday, May 20, 2013

Hepatitis Awareness Month

By Nurse Diane

According to the CDC, the 19th was the second annual hepatitis-testing day.  Since that day fell on Sunday, I’m sure you can get tested today, or any day!  They just promoted the 19th as a way to increase awareness and to encourage people, especially those in heath care, to be tested.

Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. There are 3 main types of Hepatitis, A, which is airborne, B, which is blood borne, and C (formally known as Non A-Non B) There are a few more less common types, D E F and G.

Signs and Symptoms:
Loss of appetite
Mild fever
Muscle or joint aches
Nausea and vomiting

Many cases of hepatitis go undiagnosed because the disease is mistaken for the flu or because there are no symptoms at all.

Hepatitis A virus is found in the stool (feces) of a person who has hepatitis A. The virus is spread most commonly when people put food or objects contaminated with stool containing HAV into their mouths. Large numbers of people get the virus after drinking contaminated water. It can also be spread by someone preparing food without washing their hands after using the bathroom or changing a diaper.

Hepatitis A usually goes away on it's own. Be sure to eat right, avoid dehydration and always wash your hands before eating or preparing food.

Hepatitis B virus is spread through contact with the blood and body fluids of an infected person. You may get it by having unprotected sex with an infected person, sharing injection needles, getting tatoos with infected needles or sharing razors or toothbrushes with an infected person.

Acute Hepatitis B usually goes away on it's own, Chronic Hepatitis B needs to be monitored by your doctor to determine if there is any liver damage. Prevention is the key. There is a series of vaccinations that are available to prevent contracting Hepatitis. All adults at risk as well as children should be vaccinated. It is normal protocol for nursing students to become vaccinated and I am sure the same is true for anyone in the health care field.

Hepatitis C virus is caused by coming in contact with an infected person's blood. It can lead to permanent liver damage, cirrhosis, cancer of the liver or liver failure. Most people do not know they have Hepatitis C until there is already some liver damage. Some people have had it for as long as 15 years without ever knowing. The way it is diagnosed is by blood tests.

May be treated with antivirals.

The main thing to remember is to keep yourself safe. Get vaccinated, wash your hands and protect yourself if you are around blood and body fluids.

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