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Viral hepatitis – What is it?
Hepatitis literally means disease of the liver. Many factors can lead to liver damage or Hepatitis – including alcohol and drug use. However, there are also a number of viruses that can also cause liver damage. These are referred to as Viral Hepatitis.
There are many types of Viral Hepatitis, some affect people more severely than others, some have a vaccine to prevent infection of these types of Hepatitis, some can be transmitted from sexual activity and some can lead to long term and chronic illness – even death. Using a condom during sex can help protect against Hepatitis A, B and C – all of which can be sexually transmitted.
Our liver is an extremely important organ that helps the body to:
- Process food and clear toxins from the body
- Store energy for when we need it
Symptoms of hepatitis infection could, therefore be:
- Extreme tiredness
- Aches and pains
- Loss of appetite
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin/whites of the eyes)
- Nausea, sickness and diarrhoea
- A bad reaction to alcohol
Treatment really depends on the type of Hepatitis we have contracted, how long we have been infected and our general level of health. For some people, rest and a healthy diet is enough to help the body naturally clear the virus, others will need drugs to do this and, for some, having Hepatitis will be a lifelong illness that could eventually require a liver transplant.