Affinity Health Plan

  • Health Awareness Series: August 2016 - The ABCs of Hepatitis

    August 02, 2016

    What is Hepatitis?
    Hepatitis is a sickness of the liver. The most common kinds of hepatitis are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Even if they sound alike, a different virus causes each disease. You get each in different ways and they affect the liver in different ways, but the symptoms for all the viruses are similar.

    Symptoms can include:

    • Fever
    • Being really tired
    • Not wanting to eat
    • Feeling sick to your stomach
    • Throwing up
    • Stomach pain
    • Joint paint
    • Jaundice (yellow skin and eyes)

    What is Hepatitis A?
    Hepatitis A is caused by the hepatitis A virus. Most people who have hepatitis A get better.
    You get it from:  

    • Dirty food or water
    • Human or animal waste (feces)
    • Having close, personal contact with someone who has the illness, such as through sex or caring for someone who is ill.

    Treatment: there are no drugs that treat Hep A. But, there is a vaccination to prevent it. All children should get the shot when they turn one.

    What is Hepatitis B?
    Hepatitis B is caused by the hepatitis B virus. Most people who have hepatitis B get better. However, hepatitis B can lead to liver problems such as cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), liver failure, liver cancer or even death.
    You get it from:  

    • Contact with infected blood or other body fluids
    • Being born from a mother with the virus
    • Sharing needles
    • Having sex with someone who has hepatitis B
    • Traveling to where the virus is common (China, Southeast Asia, and Africa)

    Treatment: there are drugs that treat Hep B. If you have the disease for a long time, doctors will look for liver damage. There is a vaccination to prevent Hep B. All babies and children should get the vaccination. Your doctor may give you the vaccination if you have an illness like diabetes, liver problems, or kidney problems. You should also get a shot if you have sex with many people or use drugs.

    What is Hepatitis C?
    Hepatitis C is a very serious disease. It can cause liver damage, liver failure or even death. Many people don’t know they have hepatitis C. More than 75% of adults who have Hep C were born between 1945 and 1965. If that is you, get yourself tested!
    You get it from:  

    • Touching the blood from someone who has hepatitis C
    • Sharing drug needles
    • Getting stuck with a needle that has blood on it from someone who has the virus
    • Having unprotected sex with an person who has hepatitis C
    • Being born to a mother who has hepatitis C

    You DON’T get hepatitis C by shaking hands, hugging, kissing or sitting next to someone.
    Treatment: It used to be very hard to treat Hep C. There are now easier ways to treat, and even cure it. Ask your doctor for more facts.

    Preventing Hepatitis A:
    If traveling to a developing country, you should avoid:

    • Drinking local water (only drink water from sealed bottles or boiled water)
    • Ice
    • Seafood
    • Raw fruit and vegetables (eat fruits that you can peel)

    Preventing Hepatitis B & C:  

    • Don’t share drug needles
    • Wear gloves if you have to touch anyone’s blood
    • Use a condom during sex
    • Don’t use anyone else’s toothbrush, razor, or anything else that could have blood on it
    • If you get a tattoo or body piercing, make sure the needles are clean

    A word from Dr. Loredana Ladogana, Interim Chief Medical Officer at Affinity Health Plan:
    Speak with your doctor about available vaccinations to prevent hepatitis A and B.

    To learn more:

    American Liver Foundation, or call 1.800.465.4837

    To learn more:

    National Digestive Diseases Information Clearing House - “What I need to know about Hepatitis C”
    Department of Health & Human Services - “The ABCs of Hepatitis”
    WebMD - “Hepatitis C Guide, Hepatitis B Guide, Hepatitis A Guide”  

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