Your liver is one of the very important organs in your body. It processes nutrients and metabolizes toxic substances that you ingest, including medications. It also performs a very important function, that of clearing toxic waste products from your body. Left in the body, toxic waste can cause serious health problems. Like any of your organs, your liver can be affected by bacteria, injury (by toxins) and in some cases an attack on it by your own body’s immune system. Although such effects can be minimal, viral infections causes serious health problems, one of them being hepatitis. Hepatitis is a viral infection that leaves the liver inflamed.
Symptoms of Hepatitis
The inflammation or swelling of the liver impairs its ability to undertake its functions, resulting in several indications on the presence of the condition. Because the inflammation is caused by a virus, you are bound to experience symptoms similar to those of other viral infections. Noticeable symptoms include
- General Body Weakness
- Feeling of nausea
- Yellowing of skin and eyes
- Develop fever
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Urine discoloration (darkish)
- Bowel discoloration(light colored)
These symptoms show long after your liver has been infected by virus. In some people, the symptoms show after several months after infection.
Causes of Hepatitis
Apart from viral infection, other factors can cause your liver to swell, leading to hepatitis. Such include:
- Alcohol – Alcoholic hepatitis is caused by ethanol contained in many alcoholic drinks. Consuming alcohol in excess is a major cause of alcoholic hepatitis. Long-term consumption of alcohol has the same effect.
- Toxic food – Food toxicity causes your liver to swell, leading to hepatitis. Eating toxic foods such as toxic mushrooms and carbon tetrachloride definitely cause liver inflammation.
- Medications – Certain medication have liver inflammation as one of their side effects. While such inflammation stops with discontinuation of the medications, long-term use of the same pauses serious risk. Such include paracetamol, amoxicillin and antituberculosis medications.
- Pregnancy – Pregnancy can cause liver inflammation, leading to hepatitis.
- Metabolic disorders – Metabolic disorders such as accumulation of copper and iron in the liver can cause liver inflammation.
- Autoimmune disorder – Autoimmune disorder causes cell-mediated immune response, with the body attacking its own liver organ, confusing it with a foreign object. Such disorders are hereditary.
Apart from noticeable hepatitis symptoms, blood tests are usually conducted in confirming hepatitis. There is presently no cure for hepatitis and doctors do not prescribe medications to treat hepatitis. Instead, they advise on rest and adequate fluid intake. Certain medications are however available for the management of the same. Instead of treatment medications, prevention vaccines have been developed that you can receive to prevent hepatitis. In most jurisdictions of the world, all babies receive hepatitis vaccination along with measles, tuberculosis and other vaccines. Hepatitis vaccines are also available.
Prevention Tips for Hepatitis
Apart from hepatitis vaccination, you can protect yourself against hepatitis by undertaking the following measures:
- Stay faithful to your sex partner. In case you cannot avoid straying, protect yourself with condoms.
- Avoid sharing of intravenous syringes and needles, especially if you are a drug user.
- Maintain high hygiene standard including washing your hands before you handle any food.
- Avoid receiving ‘luxury’ invasive treatments such as tattoo treatment. In case you seriously need to, ensure that the equipments used are sterilized.
- Do not share your personal effects such as toothbrush or razor blades.
- Avoid eating raw oyster unless you know the same has been harvested.
- Tone down on your alcohol intake and smoking.
Hepatitis is a serious health condition that can necessitate the need for liver transplant. It is only through vaccination and undertaking preventive measures that you can be able to protect yourself against hepatitis. It is important that you involve all your family members in your effort to keep hepatitis at bay.