How Serious Is It
- People can be sick for a few weeks to a few months
- Most recover with no lasting liver damage
- Although very rare, death can occur
- 15%25% of chronically infected people develop chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis, liver failure, or liver cancer
- More than 50% of people who get infected with the hepatitis C virus develop a chronic infection
- 5%-25% of people with chronic hepatitis C develop cirrhosis over 1020 years
Who Is Most Affected
Anyone who has not been vaccinated or previously infected can become infected with HAV. The most common risk factors among people with new HAV infections include: 1) drug use 2) having sex with an infected person 3) coming in direct contact with persons who have HAV infection 4) homelessness and 5) traveling to countries where HAV infection is more common.
For countries where HAV infection is common, the risk factors are poor sanitation and lack of clean, safe drinking water.
The Symptoms Are Variable
Though doctors can list common symptoms of hepatitis, not everyone will have these symptoms. Some people may have only one or two common symptoms. Others may have all of the symptoms. People experience viral hepatitis in different ways. These symptoms are known to exist in people with viral hepatitis. Your situation might be different.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Hepatitis In Children
Today is World Hepatitis Day where healthcare professionals and those who live with hepatitis band together to raise awareness of the disease.
It is celebrated on July 28 every year because it is the birthday of Nobel-prize-winning scientist Dr Baruch Blumberg, who discovered the hepatitis B virus and developed the diagnostic test and vaccine for the virus used today.
Among other ailments, the disease can cause liver inflammation and damage, with almost 10% of patients needing a liver transplant.
But what are the symptoms you need to look out for in your child?
Here is everything you need to know.
Articles On Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a sneaky virus. You may not have any symptoms at all. Most people donât. This is one if the reasons, along with treatability now, that all adults are recommended to get tested. Your doctor could check your liver and see only a little damage. You’re usually not diagnosed until they spot a problem with your liver enzymes after a routine blood test.
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Who Is More Likely To Get Hepatitis A
People more likely to get hepatitis A are those who
- travel to developing countries
- have sex with an infected person
- are men who have sex with men
- use illegal drugs, including drugs that are not injected
- experience unstable housing or homelessness
- live with or care for someone who has hepatitis A
- live with or care for a child recently adopted from a country where hepatitis A is common
When Should I See A Doctor
Make an appointment if you have any of the symptoms and you recently:
- Traveled out of the country, especially if you went to Mexico, South America, Central America, or anywhere without good sanitation
- Ate at a restaurant that reported a hepatitis A outbreak
- Found out someone close to you, like a roommate or caregiver, was diagnosed with hepatitis A
- Had sex with someone who has hepatitis A
- Ate raw shellfish
- Used illegal drugs
When you see your doctor, they may spot some more signs that you’ve got the disease. For instance, they might find that you have:
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How Long Does It Last
Hepatitis A can last from a few weeks to several months.
Hepatitis B can range from a mild illness, lasting a few weeks, to a serious, life-long condition. More than 90% of unimmunized infants who get infected develop a chronic infection, but 6%10% of older children and adults who get infected develop chronic hepatitis B.
Hepatitis C can range from a mild illness, lasting a few weeks, to a serious, life-long infection. Most people who get infected with the hepatitis C virus develop chronic hepatitis C.
What Causes Autoimmune Hepatitis
Experts arent sure what causes autoimmune hepatitis. Studies suggest that certain genes make some people more likely to develop autoimmune diseases. In people with these genes, factors in the environment may trigger an autoimmune reaction that causes their immune system to attack the liver.
Researchers are still studying the environmental triggers that play a role in autoimmune hepatitis. These triggers may include certain viruses and medicines.
Some medicines can cause liver injury that resembles autoimmune hepatitis. In most cases, the liver injury goes away when the medicine is stopped. The most common medicines that cause liver injury that resembles autoimmune hepatitis are minocyclinean antibiotic used to treat acneand nitrofurantoinan antibiotic used to treat urinary tract infections. Telling your doctor the names of all the medicines you take, even over-the-counter medicines or herbal or botanical products, is important.
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What Is The Outlook For Hepatitis
Hepatitis A and E usually only cause short-term infections that your body can overcome. The others can also cause acute infections, but might also cause chronic infections. The chronic forms are more dangerous. Hepatitis non-E is usually acute, but can become chronic.
Most people recover fully from hepatitis even though it might take several months for the liver to heal. To help improve your health and to help speed up your recovery:
- Avoid alcohol.
- Practice good nutrition.
- If you feel sick, rest.
- Talk to your healthcare provider about your medicines, even over-the-counter drugs or vitamins and supplements, to know which ones you should take and which to avoid until you are recovered.
With hepatitis, your healthcare provider will also be looking for long-term damage to the liver in the forms of cirrhosis or liver failure. You may be asked to take other types of tests, such as liver function tests, imaging tests or possibly a liver biopsy.
If you have questions, new symptoms, or worsening of any existing symptoms, you should call the office of your healthcare provider.
In the U.S., A, B and C are the most common viral forms of hepatitis. It doesnt matter how you were infectedwhat matters is taking care of yourself once you have been diagnosed and taking care not to spread the infection to anyone else.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/06/2020.
What Are The Treatments For Hepatitis
Treatment for hepatitis depends on which type you have and whether it is acute or chronic. Acute viral hepatitis often goes away on its own. To feel better, you may just need to rest and get enough fluids. But in some cases, it may be more serious. You might even need treatment in a hospital.
There are different medicines to treat the different chronic types of hepatitis. Possible other treatments may include surgery and other medical procedures. People who have alcoholic hepatitis need to stop drinking. If your chronic hepatitis leads to liver failure or liver cancer, you may need a liver transplant.
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How Is Viral Hepatitis Diagnosed
Diagnosis of viral hepatitis is based on symptoms and physical findings as well as blood tests for liver enzymes, viral antibodies, and viral genetic materials.
Symptoms and physical findings
Diagnosis of acute viral hepatitis often is easy, but the diagnosis of chronic hepatitis can be difficult. When a patient reports symptoms of fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain, darkening of urine, and then develops jaundice, the diagnosis of acute viral hepatitis is likely and can be confirmed by blood tests. On the other hand, patients with chronic hepatitis due to HBV and HCV often have no symptoms or only mild nonspecific symptoms such as chronic fatigue. Typically, these patients do not have jaundice until the liver damage is far advanced. Therefore, these patients can remain undiagnosed for years to decades.
There are three types of blood tests for evaluating patients with hepatitis: liver enzymes, antibodies to the hepatitis viruses, and viral proteins or genetic material .
Liver enzymes: Among the most sensitive and widely used blood tests for evaluating patients with hepatitis are liver enzymes, called aminotransferases. They include aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase . These enzymes normally are contained within liver cells. If the liver is injured , the liver cells spill the enzymes into the blood, raising the enzyme levels in the blood and signaling that the liver is damaged.
Examples of tests for viral antibodies are:
Most Common Symptoms Of Hepatitis C To Watch For
Because the symptoms can easily be mistaken for a mild stomach flu, food poisoning, dehydration, eating something you are allergic to, menstrual cramping and a number of other common occurrences, it is easy to see why so many people miss an acute Hepatitis C diagnosis.
Chronic Hepatitis C
For the majority of immune systems that are unable to mount a strong enough response to eliminate Hepatitis C from the liver, this infection becomes chronic. The longer the Hepatitis C virus resides in the body, the more inflammation and damage can be done to the liver.
Over time, soft, healthy liver tissue accumulates scars from the virus and becomes fibrotic. Known as liver fibrosis, this is a sign that liver disease is progressing.
If inflammation and liver cell damage continue, the liver can become cirrhotic. Characterized by the hardening and shrinking of liver tissue, liver cirrhosis is an advanced stage of liver disease. Once a person has severe fibrosis or cirrhosis as a consequence of Hepatitis C infection, more complex symptoms emerge.
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How Do You Get Hepatitis A
The main way you get hepatitis A is when you eat or drink something that has the hep A virus in it. A lot of times this happens in a restaurant. If an infected worker there doesn’t wash their hands well after using the bathroom, and then touches food, they could pass the disease to you.
Food or drinks you buy at the supermarket can sometimes cause the disease, too. The ones most likely to get contaminated are:
- Ice and water
Another way you can get hep A is when you have sex with someone who has it.
Complications Of Hepatitis A
Around 10% of people who have had hepatitis A experience a relapse . Most people who have a relapse fully recover.
Hepatitis A does not cause chronic liver disease.
The severity of the disease is more severe in older age groups.
Complications of hepatitis A are rare, but the infection can lead to fulminant hepatitis. This is an acute form of hepatitis that can cause liver failure. The risk of death from fulminant hepatitis increases with age.
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What If You Test Positive
If a test says you have viral hepatitis, you can take steps to protect the ones you love. For hepatitis A, wash hands frequently. For hepatitis B and C, avoid sharing nail clippers, razors, or toothbrushes. Hepatitis B, and sometimes hepatitis C, can be passed through sexual contact. Make sure everyone in your household gets the hepatitis B vaccine. An important step is to see a specialist to discuss treatment options.
What Are The Symptoms And Signs Of Viral Hepatitis
The period of time between exposure to hepatitis and the onset of the illness is called the incubation period. The incubation period varies depending on the specific hepatitis virus. Hepatitis A virus has an incubation period of about 15 to 45 days Hepatitis B virus from 45 to 160 days, and Hepatitis C virus from about 2 weeks to 6 months.
Many patients infected with HAV, HBV, and HCV have few or no symptoms of illness. For those who do develop symptoms of viral hepatitis, the most common are flu-like symptoms including:
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What Are The Symptoms Of Hepatitis A
You can get the first symptoms anytime between 15 and 50 days after you came in contact with the virus. But they usually show up between about 2 and 4 weeks later.
Most people with hepatitis A usually have sudden:
- Extreme tiredness
If your child has hep A, they may also have:
- Cold symptoms
- Sore throat
If you’re over age 50 or have a long-term liver disease, you may have a more severe case of the disease called fulminant hepatitis A infection. You could have symptoms like:
- Spontaneous bleeding or easy bruising
- Confusion and changes in alertness
- Liver function that gets worse
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes that gets worse
What Is Acute Fulminant Hepatitis
Rarely, individuals with acute infections with HAV and HBV develop severe inflammation, and the liver fails . These patients are extremely ill with the symptoms of acute hepatitis already described and the additional problems of confusion or coma , as well as bruising or bleeding . In fact, up to 80% of people with acute fulminant hepatitis can die within days to weeks therefore, it is fortunate that acute fulminant hepatitis is rare. For example, less than 0.5% of adults with acute infection with HBV will develop acute fulminant hepatitis. This is even less common with HCV alone, although it becomes more frequent when both HBV and HCV are present together.
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Different Types Of Hepatitis And Their Symptoms
In this article:
Hepatitis refers to inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis B and C can lead to chronic liver disease, whereas hepatitis C accounts for a larger proportion of disease in the United States, with approximately 2.4 million adults being infected with hepatitis C compared to 1.59 million infected with hepatitis B.
The incidence of cirrhosis in the affected groups is comparable. The risk of liver cancer is also similar in patients with chronic hepatitis B and C with cirrhosis.
Is Hepatitis Contagious
Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C are all caused by viruses and are contagious, but each virus spreads differently.
Hepatitis A is spread by eating food or drinking water with the virus in it or touching something contaminated with the virus, then touching food or your face.
Both hepatitis B is transmitted when a person comes in contact with blood or other bodily fluids from an infected person.
It spreads by having sex with an infected person, sharing drug needles, using infected needles for tattoos, acupuncture or piercings, sharing toothbrushes, razors, or other personal items with an infected person and from a pregnant mother to their baby if the mother had hepatitis during pregnancy.
Similar to B, hepatitis C also spreads through the blood and be transmitted through sharing drug needles or using infected needles for tattooing, acupuncture, or piercings and from mother to baby if the mother had hepatitis during pregnancy.
However, HCV can also spread through using cocaine straws with an infected person. Before 1990, it was also common for hepatitis C to spread by receiving a blood transfusion. Though C can spread through sex, it is uncommon.
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Who Should Be Tested
Testing for hepatitis A is not routinely recommended.
CDC recommends hepatitis B testing for:
- Men who have sex with men
- People who inject drugs
- Household and sexual contacts of people with hepatitis B
- People requiring immunosuppressive therapy
- People with end-stage renal disease
- People with hepatitis C
- People with elevated ALT levels
- Pregnant women
- Infants born to HBV-infected mothers
CDC recommends hepatitis C testing for:
- All adults aged 18 years and older
- All pregnant women during each pregnancy
- About 24,900 new infections each year
- About 22,600 new infections in 2018
- Estimated 862,000 people living with hepatitis B
- About 50,300 new infections in 2018
- Estimated 2.4 million people living with hepatitis C
Is There A Vaccine For Hepatitis
There are vaccines for hepatitis A and hepatitis B that are available in the U.S. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C. Since you can only get hepatitis D if you have hepatitis B, getting the vaccine against B should protect you against hepatitis D. There is no FDA approved vaccine against hepatitis E, but vaccines against hepatitis E exist overseas .
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When Should You See A Doctor Or Other Healthcare Professional
Since so many people dont experience any symptoms, healthcare professionals recommend getting screened for hepatitis C at least once in your adult life. They may recommend more frequent screenings if you have a higher risk of contracting the virus.
Hepatitis C doesnt always become severe, but the chronic form can increase your risk for liver damage, liver cancer, and liver failure.
If you have any symptoms that suggest hepatitis C, especially if theres a chance youve been exposed, connect with a doctor or another healthcare professional as soon as possible to discuss your options for testing and treatment.
With a prompt diagnosis, you can get treatment earlier, which may help prevent damage to your liver.