Hepatitis involves the inflammation of the liver. It is one of the leading causes of liver disease in the world. There are distinctive viruses that can instigate hepatitis – hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. All of these can cause comparable symptoms but some forms can be chronic and even lead to life-threatening complications.
The common types include hepatitis A virus and hepatitis C virus. It is important to note that the hepatitis A virus is the prevalent form of acute viral hepatitis that affects millions all over the world yearly. As for hepatitis C virus, millions currently have chronic hepatitis C. Take note that these types have some qualities in common but also have distinct differences.
How they are transmitted
Hepatitis A virus is present in fecal matter and transmitted when the individual consumes contaminated water or food. It can also spread through sexual contact with an infected individual.
An individual is at risk for type A when travelling to areas that have poor sanitation and high rates of the disease.
Hepatitis C can spread via contact with the blood of an infected individual but in some cases, the exact cause cannot be identified. Those who use intravenous drugs who share needles face a higher risk as well as those who have HIV. In addition, it can also be transmitted through sexual contact or transmitted by an infected mother to an infant.
What are the symptoms?
Hepatitis A has an incubation period of 15-50 days. In most cases, the symptoms start at around the 28th day. As for hepatitis C, it has an incubation period of 14-80 days but the symptoms are noticeable in about 45 days.
The symptoms of both hepatitis C and hepatitis A are the same and include vomiting, nausea and abdominal pain. Other symptoms include appetite loss, fever, fatigue, joint pain, gray-colored stools and yellowish-tinge to the eyes and skin. To learn to recognize the symptoms and observe precautions on disease transmission, register for a class on first aid with a credible provider near you.
It is important to note that hepatitis A is an acute infection and the symptoms can last for a few weeks to a few months yet it will not progress into a chronic condition. As for hepatitis C, it can also be an acute infection but if it persists for more than 6 months, it is considered as a chronic case that can lead to serious complications.
There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A. The vomiting and diarrhea must be treated with increased fluids and nutritional support. Most cases fully recover within a few weeks to a few months.
As for type C, it must be monitored carefully even during the acute stage, but it does not always require treatment. In case it progresses to a chronic stage, regular monitoring of the liver is required if needed. In most cases, it can also be managed with antiviral treatment.
Type A can be prevented with vaccination that is administered in two doses six months apart and can start at 1 year old. Getting a vaccination is recommended if planning to travel to an area that has a high rate of hepatitis A. On the other hand, there is no vaccine that can provide protection against hepatitis C.