Most people’s knowledge of Hepatitis extends only about as far as A, B, and C, the three most common variations of the disease. But did you know there are D and E strains, as well? If you’re not directly affected by it or know someone who is, it’s understandable to be a bit in the dark about hepatitis and its very real potential to destroy the liver. After all, it’s not generally fatal and there are vaccines and treatments available to combat all but hepatitis C (HCV) – the most deadly form. With that said, millions of people here in the U.S. and around the world are still at risk of infection and death due to hepatitis. Here’s what else you should know.
More Fast Facts About Hepatitis
- Hepatitis A (HAV) mostly stems from contact with contaminated food or water and is extremely contagious, but you may not even be aware you are infected due to moderate or non-existent symptoms. In fact, mild cases require no treatment and usually result in no liver damage. Poor bathroom hygiene habits are a common source of infection.
- Hepatitis E (HEV) is uncommon in the United States (as it’s also transmitted through contaminated food and water), but is rampant in South and East Asia and other developing areas of the planet.
- Hepatitis C (HCV) is 10 times more infectious than HIV, the virus linked directly to AIDS, and there is no vaccine to combat or prevent it. Contact with HCV infected blood through intravenous drug use, transfusions, and unsterilized tattoo needles are common sources of infection.
- Since it affects the liver, hepatitis symptoms include jaundice, primarily recognized by the yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes. Other signs include abdominal pain, vomiting, darkened urine, and nausea.
- Drug and/or alcohol use can also lead to hepatitis.
Hepatitis screening is available, so if you feel like you may have put yourself at risk with lifestyle behaviors or with previous travel plans, speak with your care provider about how you can get checked out.