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HEPATITIS 'A, B & C' AND TREATMENT



HEPATITIS 'A, B & C' AND TREATMENT

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. The virus is one of several types of hepatitis viruses that cause inflammation and affect your liver's ability to function.

You're most likely to contract hepatitis A from contaminated food or water or from close contact with someone who's infected. Mild cases of hepatitis A don't require treatment, and most people who are infected recover completely with no permanent liver damage.

Practicing good hygiene, including washing hands frequently, is one of the best ways to protect against hepatitis A. Vaccines are available for people most at risk.

SYMPTOMS

Hepatitis A signs and symptoms, which typically don't appear until you've had the virus for a few weeks, may include:

*Fatigue
*Nausea and vomiting
*Abdominal pain or discomfort, especially in the area of your liver on your right side beneath your lower ribs
*Clay-colored bowel movements
*Loss of appetite
*Low-grade fever
*Dark urine
*Joint pain
*Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)

If you have hepatitis A, you may have a mild illness that lasts a few weeks or a severe illness that lasts several months. Not everyone with hepatitis A develops signs or symptoms.

When to see a doctor

*Make an appointment with your doctor if you have signs or symptoms of hepatitis A.

*If you've been exposed to hepatitis A, having a hepatitis A vaccine or immunoglobulin therapy within two weeks of exposure may protect you from infection. Ask your doctor or your local health department about receiving the hepatitis A vaccine if:

*You've traveled internationally recently, particularly to Mexico or South or Central America, or to areas with poor sanitation

*You visited a restaurant where you recently ate reports a hepatitis A outbreak
*Someone close to you, such as someone you live with or your caregiver, is diagnosed with hepatitis A
*You recently had sexual contact with someone who has hepatitis A

CAUSES

The hepatitis A virus, which causes the infection, usually is spread when a person ingests even tiny amounts of contaminated fecal matter. The hepatitis A virus infects liver cells and causes inflammation. The inflammation can impair liver function and cause other signs and symptoms of hepatitis A.

Hepatitis A virus can be transmitted several ways, such as:

*Eating food handled by someone with the virus who doesn't thoroughly wash his or her hands after using the toilet
*Drinking contaminated water
*Eating raw shellfish from water polluted with sewage
*Being in close contact with a person who's infected — even if that person has no signs or symptoms
*Having sex with someone who has the virus

RISK FACTORS

You're at increased risk of hepatitis A if you:

*Travel or work in regions with high rates of hepatitis A
*Attend child care or work in a child care center
*You are a man who has sexual contact with other men
*You are HIV positive
*Have a clotting-factor disorder, such as hemophilia
*Use injected or noninjected illicit drugs
*Live with another person who has hepatitis A
*Have oral-anal contact with someone who has hepatitis A

COMPLICATIONS

Unlike other types of viral hepatitis, hepatitis A does not cause long-term liver damage, and it doesn't become chronic.

In rare cases, hepatitis A can cause loss of liver function that occurs suddenly, especially in older adults or people with chronic liver diseases. Acute liver failure requires hospitalization for monitoring and treatment. Some people with acute liver failure may require a liver transplant.

PREPARING FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT

If someone close to you is diagnosed with hepatitis A, ask your doctor or local health department if you should have the hepatitis A vaccine to prevent infection.

If you have signs and symptoms of hepatitis A, make an appointment with your family doctor or a general practitioner.

TESTS AND DIAGNOSIS

Blood tests are used to detect the presence of hepatitis A in your body. A sample of blood is taken, usually from a vein in your arm, and sent to a laboratory for testing.

TREATMENTS

No specific treatment exists for hepatitis A. Your body will clear the hepatitis A virus on its own. In most cases of hepatitis A, the liver heals within six months with no lasting damage.

Hepatitis A treatment usually focuses on coping with your signs and symptoms. You may need to:

*Rest. Many people with hepatitis A infection feel tired and sick and have less energy.

*Cope with nausea. Nausea can make it difficult to eat. Try snacking throughout the day rather than eating full meals. To get enough calories, eat more high-calorie foods. For instance, drink fruit juice or milk rather than water.

*Rest your liver. Your liver may have difficulty processing medications and alcohol. Review your medications, including over-the-counter drugs, with your doctor. Don't drink alcohol while infected with hepatitis.

LIFESTYLE AND HOME REMEDIES

The hepatitis A vaccine can prevent infection with the virus. The hepatitis A vaccine is typically given in two doses — initial vaccination followed by a booster shot six months later.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following individuals receive a hepatitis A vaccine:

*All children at age 1, or older children who didn't receive the vaccine at age 1
*Laboratory workers who may come in contact with hepatitis A
*Men who have sex with men
*People planning travel to areas of the world with high rates of hepatitis A
*People who receive treatment with clotting-factor concentrates
*People with chronic liver disease

If you're concerned about your risk of hepatitis A, ask your doctor if you should be vaccinated.

Follow safety precautions when traveling

*If you're traveling in regions where hepatitis A outbreaks occur, peel and wash all fresh fruits and vegetables yourself and avoid raw or undercooked meat and fish.
*Drink bottled water and use it when brushing your teeth.
*Don't drink beverages of unknown purity, with or without ice.
*If bottled water isn't available, boil tap water before drinking it.

Practice good hygiene

Thoroughly wash your hands often, especially after using the toilet or changing a diaper and before preparing food or eating.
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ABOUT HEPATITIS B

Hepatitis B is a serious liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). For some people, hepatitis B infection becomes chronic, meaning it lasts more than six months. Having chronic hepatitis B increases your risk of developing liver failure, liver cancer or cirrhosis — a condition that causes permanent scarring of the liver.

Most people infected with hepatitis B as adults recover fully, even if their signs and symptoms are severe. Infants and children are more likely to develop a chronic hepatitis B infection. A vaccine can prevent hepatitis B, but there's no cure if you have it. If you're infected, taking certain precautions can help prevent spreading HBV to others.

SYMPTOMS

Signs and symptoms of hepatitis B, ranging from mild to severe, usually appear about one to four months after you've been infected. Signs and symptoms of hepatitis B may include:

*Abdominal pain
*Dark urine
*Fever
*Joint pain
*Loss of appetite
*Nausea and vomiting
*Weakness and fatigue
*Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)

When to see a doctor

If you know you've been exposed to hepatitis B, contact your doctor immediately. A preventive treatment may reduce your risk of infection if you receive the treatment within 24 hours of exposure to the virus.

If you think you have signs or symptoms of hepatitis B, contact your doctor.

CAUSES

Hepatitis B infection is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). The virus is passed from person to person through blood, semen or other body fluids.

Common ways HBV is transmitted include:

*Sexual contact. You may become infected if you have unprotected sex with an infected partner whose blood, saliva, semen or vaginal secretions enter your body.
*Sharing of needles. HBV is easily transmitted through needles and syringes contaminated with infected blood. Sharing intravenous (IV) drug paraphernalia puts you at high risk of hepatitis B.
*Accidental needle sticks. Hepatitis B is a concern for health care workers and anyone else who comes in contact with human blood.
*Mother to child. Pregnant women infected with HBV can pass the virus to their babies during childbirth. However, the newborn can be vaccinated to avoid getting infected in almost all cases. Talk to your doctor about being tested for hepatitis B if you are pregnant or want to become pregnant.

Acute vs. chronic hepatitis B

Hepatitis B infection may be either short-lived (acute) or long lasting (chronic).

*Acute hepatitis B infection lasts less than six months. Your immune system likely can clear acute hepatitis B from your body, and you should recover completely within a few months. Most people who acquire hepatitis B as adults have an acute infection, but it can lead to chronic infection.

*Chronic hepatitis B infection lasts six months or longer. When your immune system can't fight off the acute infection, hepatitis B infection may last a lifetime, possibly leading to serious illnesses such as cirrhosis and liver cancer.

The younger you are when you get hepatitis B — particularly newborns or children younger than 5 — the higher your risk the infection becoming chronic. Chronic infection may go undetected for decades until a person becomes seriously ill from liver disease.

RISK FACTORS

Hepatitis B spreads through contact with blood, semen or other body fluids from an infected person. Your risk of hepatitis B infection increases if you:

*Have unprotected sex with multiple sex partners or with someone who's infected with HBV
*Share needles during intravenous (IV) drug use
*You are a man who has sex with other men
*Live with someone who has a chronic HBV infection
*You are an infant born to an infected mother
*Have a job that exposes you to human blood
*Travel to regions with high infection rates of HBV, such as Africa, Central and Southeast Asia, and Eastern Europe

COMPLICATIONS

Having a chronic HBV infection can lead to serious complications, such as:

*Scarring of the liver (cirrhosis). The inflammation associated with a hepatitis B infection can lead to extensive liver scarring (cirrhosis), which may impair the liver's ability to function.
*Liver cancer. People with chronic hepatitis B infection have an increased risk of liver cancer.
*Liver failure. Acute liver failure is a condition in which the vital functions of the liver shut down. When that occurs, a liver transplant is necessary to sustain life.
*Other conditions. People with chronic hepatitis B may have kidney disease, inflammation of blood vessels oranemia.

PREPARING FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT

You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. However, in some cases, you may be referred immediately to a specialist. Doctors who specialize in treating hepatitis B include:

*Doctors who treat digestive diseases (gastroenterologists)
*Doctors who treat liver diseases (hepatologists)
*Doctors who treat infectious diseases

TESTS AND DIAGNOSIS

If your doctor suspects you have hepatitis B, he or she will examine you and likely order blood tests. Blood tests can determine if you have the virus in your system and whether it's acute or chronic.
Your doctor might also want to remove a small sample of your liver for testing (liver biopsy) to determine whether you have liver damage. During this test, your doctor inserts a thin needle through your skin and into your liver and removes a tissue sample for laboratory analysis.

Screening healthy people for hepatitis B

Doctors sometimes test certain healthy people for hepatitis B infection because the virus can damage the liver before causing signs and symptoms. Talk to your doctor about screening for hepatitis B infection if you:

*Live with someone who has hepatitis B
*Have had sex with someone who has hepatitis B
*Have a liver enzyme test with unexplained abnormal results
*Have HIV or hepatitis C
*You are an immigrant from, have parents from or have adopted children from places where hepatitis B is common, including Asia, the Pacific Islands, Africa and Eastern Europe
*You are an inmate
*You are a man who has sex with men
*Receive kidney dialysis
*Take medications that suppress the immune system, such as anti-rejection medications used after an organ transplant
*You are pregnant

TREATMENTS

Treatment to prevent hepatitis B infection after exposure

If you know you've been exposed to the hepatitis B virus, call your doctor immediately. If you haven't been vaccinated or aren't sure whether you've been vaccinated or whether you responded to the vaccination, receiving an injection of hepatitis B immune globulin within 12 hours of coming in contact with the virus may help protect you from developing hepatitis B. You should be vaccinated at the same time.

Treatment for acute hepatitis B infection

If your doctor determines your hepatitis B infection is acute — meaning it is short-lived and will go away on its own — you may not need treatment. Instead, your doctor might recommend rest and adequate nutrition and fluids while your body fights the infection.

Treatment for chronic hepatitis B infection

If you've been diagnosed with chronic hepatitis B infection, you may have treatment to reduce the risk of liver disease and prevent you from passing the infection to others. Treatments include:

*Antiviral medications. Several antiviral medications  can help fight the virus and slow its ability to damage your liver. Talk to your doctor about which medication might be right for you.
*Interferon alfa-2b (Intron A). This synthetic version of a substance produced by the body to fight infection is used mainly for young people with hepatitis B who don't want to undergo long-term treatment or who might want to get pregnant within a few years. It's given by injection. Side effects may include depression, difficulty breathing and chest tightness.
*Liver transplant. If your liver has been severely damaged, a liver transplant may be an option. During a liver transplant, the surgeon removes your damaged liver and replaces it with a healthy liver. Most transplanted livers come from deceased donors, though a small number come from living donors who donate a portion of their livers.

Other drugs to treat hepatitis B are being developed.

LIFESTYLE AND HOME REMEDIES

The hepatitis B vaccine is typically given as three or four injections over six months. You can't get hepatitis B from the vaccine.

The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for:

*Newborns
*Children and adolescents not vaccinated at birth
*Anyone who has a sexually transmitted infection, including HIV
*Developmentally disabled people who live in an institutional setting and staff
*Health care workers, emergency workers and other people who come into contact with blood
*Men who have sex with men
*People who have multiple sexual partners
*People with chronic liver disease
*People who inject illicit drugs
*People who live with someone who has hepatitis B
*People with end-stage kidney disease
*Sexual partners of someone who has hepatitis B
*Travelers planning to go to an area of the world with a high hepatitis B infection rate

Take precautions to avoid HBV

Other ways to reduce your risk of HBV include:

*Know the HBV status of any sexual partner. Don't engage in unprotected sex unless you're absolutely certain your partner isn't infected with HBV or any other sexually transmitted infection.
*Use a new latex or polyurethane condom every time you have sex if you don't know the health status of your partner. Remember that although condoms can reduce your risk of contracting HBV, they don't eliminate the risk.
*Stop using illicit drugs. If you use illicit drugs, get help to stop. If you can't stop, use a sterile needle each time you inject illicit drugs. Never share needles.
*Be cautious about body piercing and tattooing. If you get a piercing or tattoo, look for a reputable shop. Ask about how the equipment is cleaned. Make sure the employees use sterile needles. If you can't get answers, look for another shop.
*Ask about the hepatitis B vaccine before you travel. If you're traveling to a region where hepatitis B is common, ask your doctor about the hepatitis B vaccine in advance. It's usually given in a series of three injections over a six-month period.

COPING AND SUPPORT

If you've been diagnosed with hepatitis B infection, the following suggestions might help you cope:

*Learn about hepatitis B. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a good place to start.
*Stay connected to friends and family.You can't spread hepatitis B through casual contact, so don't cut yourself off from people who can offer support.
*Take care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep.
*Take care of your liver. Don't drink alcohol. Don't take prescription or over-the-counter drugs without consulting your doctor. Get tested for hepatitis A and C. Get vaccinated for hepatitis A if you haven't been exposed.
_____________________________________________________________________

ABOUT HEPATITIS C

Hepatitis C is an infection caused by a virus that attacks the liver and leads to inflammation. Most people infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) have no symptoms. In fact, most people don't know they have the hepatitis C infection until liver damage shows up, decades later, during routine medical tests.

Hepatitis C is one of several hepatitis viruses and is generally considered to be among the most serious of these viruses. Hepatitis C is passed through contact with contaminated blood — most commonly through needles shared during illegal drug use.

SYMPTOMS

Hepatitis C infection usually causes no symptoms until late in the course of chronic infection. In its earliest stages, beginning about one to three months after exposure to the virus, the following signs and symptoms occur in a small proportion of infected people:

*Fatigue
*Nausea or poor appetite
*Stomach pain
*Dark-colored urine
*Yellow discoloration in the skin and eyes (jaundice)
*Fever
*Muscle and joint pains

Signs and symptoms of chronic infection typically become evident after years and are the result of liver damage caused by the virus. These may initially include the symptoms of acute infection. Then, over time, signs and symptoms may include:

*Bleeding easily
*Bruising easily
*Itchy skin
*Fluid accumulation in your abdomen (ascites)
*Swelling in your legs
*Weight loss
*Confusion, drowsiness and slurred speech (hepatic encephalopathy)
*Spider-like blood vessels on your skin (spider angiomas)

When to see a doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any of the above signs and symptoms.

CAUSES

Hepatitis C infection is caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). HCV is spread when you come in contact with blood contaminated with the virus.

RISK FACTORS

Your risk of hepatitis C infection is increased if you:

*You are a health care worker who has been exposed to infected blood, such as may happen if an infected needle pierces your skin
*Have ever injected or inhaled illicit drugs
*Have HIVReceived a piercing or tattoo in an unclean environment using unsterile equipment
*Received hemodialysis treatments for a long period of time
*Were born to a woman with a hepatitis C infection.

COMPLICATIONS

Hepatitis C infection that continues over many years can cause significant complications, such as:

*Scarring of the liver tissue (cirrhosis). After 20 to 30 years of hepatitis C infection, cirrhosis may occur. Scarring in your liver makes it difficult for your liver to function.
*Liver cancer. A small number of people with hepatitis C infection may develop liver cancer.
*Liver failure. A liver that is severely damaged by hepatitis C may be unable to function adequately.

PREPARING FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT

Who to see

If you think you may have a risk of hepatitis C, see your family doctor or a general practitioner. Once you've been diagnosed with hepatitis C infection, your doctor may recommend you see a specialist. Specialists who see people with hepatitis C infection include:

*Doctors who specialize in infectious diseases
*Doctors who specialize in liver diseases (hepatologists)

TESTS AND DIAGNOSIS

Screening for hepatitis C

Testing for hepatitis C infection in people who have a high risk of coming in contact with the virus may help doctors begin treatment or recommend lifestyle changes that may slow liver damage. This is recommended because hepatitis C infection often begins damaging the liver before it causes signs and symptoms.

People who may want to talk to their doctors about screening for hepatitis C infection include:

*Anyone who has ever injected or inhaled illicit drugs
*Anyone with unexplained, unusual liver function test results
*Babies born to mothers with hepatitis C
*Health care and emergency workers who have been exposed to blood or accidental needle sticks
*Sexual partners of anyone diagnosed with hepatitis C infection
*People with HIV infection
*Anyone who has been in prison

Blood tests to diagnose hepatitis C

Blood tests may help to:

*Determine whether you have the hepatitis C virus
*Measure the quantity of the hepatitis C virus in your blood (viral load)
*Evaluate the genetic makeup of the virus (genotyping), which helps determine your treatment options

Testing samples of liver tissue to determine severity of liver damage

Your doctor may also recommend a procedure to remove a small sample of liver tissue for laboratory testing. A liver biopsy can help determine the severity of the disease and guide treatment decisions. During a liver biopsy, your doctor inserts a thin needle through your skin and into your liver to remove the tissue sample.

TREATMENTS

Antiviral medications

Hepatitis C infection is treated with antiviral medications intended to clear the virus from your body. The goal of treatment is to have no hepatitis C virus detected in your body at least 12 weeks after you complete treatment.

Researchers have recently made significant advances in treatment for hepatitis C, combining new anti-viral medications with existing ones. As a result, people experience better outcomes, fewer side effects and shorter treatment times — some as short as 12 weeks. Regimens may vary depending on the hepatitis C genotype, presence of existing liver damage, other medical conditions and prior treatments, but they're generally much more effective today than previously.

Due to the pace of research, recommendations for medications and treatment regimens are changing rapidly, and treatment is also quite complex. It is therefore best to discuss your treatment options with a specialist.

Throughout treatment your doctor will monitor your response to medications.

Liver transplant

If your liver has been severely damaged, a liver transplant may be an option. During a liver transplant, the surgeon removes your damaged liver and replaces it with a healthy liver. Most transplanted livers come from deceased donors, though a small number come from living donors who donate a portion of their livers.

For people with hepatitis C infection, a liver transplant is not a cure. Treatment with antiviral medications usually continues after a liver transplant, since hepatitis C infection is likely to recur in the new liver.

Vaccinations

Although there is no vaccine for hepatitis C, your doctor will likely recommend that you receive vaccines against the hepatitis A and B viruses. These are separate viruses that also can cause liver damage and complicate treatment of hepatitis C.

LIFESTYLE AND HOME REMEDIES

Protect yourself from hepatitis C infection by taking the following precautions:

*Stop using illicit drugs. If you use illicit drugs, seek help.
*Be cautious about body piercing and tattooing. If you choose to undergo piercing or tattooing, look for a reputable shop. Ask questions beforehand about how the equipment is cleaned. Make sure the employees use sterile needles. If employees won't answer your questions, look for another shop.
*Practice safer sex. Don't engage in unprotected sex with multiple partners or with any partner whose health status is uncertain. Sexual transmission between monogamous couples may occur, but the risk is low.
_______________________________________

Contact us:

Mtonga Isaac Pharmacy,
Ng'ombe Township,
#16/24 Off Zambezi road,
Email: mtongaisaacpharmacy@gmail.com,
Tel: +260974272433/+260966399444,
Lusaka, Zambia.

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