Hepatitis Awareness

Hepatitis is a disease that impacts the liver which can be caused by consuming contaminated water or food, using dirty needles or syringes or practicing unsafe sex. The people who become infected may experience effects such as a mild illness that can range to serious liver damage. Some of the common symptoms include fever, appetite loss, nausea, abdominal pain and yellowish skin or eyes. People do tend to recover from the disease; however some people unknowingly can become a carrier and spread the disease to others.

Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is a virus which can contaminate typically through our food or water. It can be infected through a food handler source, unhygienic hands or through contamination through harvest, manufacturing or processing. Some common foods in which hepatitis A can be found is through contaminated water, raw or undercooked shellfish or raw fruits and vegetables. The symptoms can take between 2-7 weeks to develop.

Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is more infectious compared to HIV. Hepatitis B occurs through contact between people’s blood, semen or bodily fluids. Typically 95% of adults tend to recover within a 6 months frame of becoming infected. The reason why Hepatitis B is a concern is that the symptoms can take 2-6 months to appear, thus some individuals may be a carrier without knowing. There are some common risk factors which include injection drug use and intranasal drug use, sexual activities, sharing personal care items (e.g. razors, tooth brushes), receiving a tattoo with unsterile equipment).

Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C occurs through contact with infected blood and bodily fluids. It is important to remember that one would be infected if the virus enters the bloodstream. Some common ways in which one may be infected is through utilizing equipment intended for making or concealing drugs with infected blood. Some can also become infected through utilizing unsterile equipment, sharing personal care items or through sexual activities. Hepatitis C is not spread through food or drink contamination, causal contact (hugging, kissing) or sneezing or coughing. Roughly 60-70% with hepatitis C do not develop symptoms until their liver has become damaged.

Potential Treatment Options
Overall, to be diagnosed for hepatitis, it can be done through taking a blood test. For prevention purposes practicing proper hygiene and taking vaccinations to protect against Hepatitis A and B. One example of the vaccines that is used for hepatitis A and B is Twinrix. For hepatitis C, there is a specialized anti-viral medication which is a combination of sofosbuvir and ledipasvir which is made into a tablet. Harvoni is used for individuals over the age of 18 who face chronic hepatitis C. There are potential side effects to these prevention and treatment options which include mild, tiredness and headaches. Speak to our pharmacist team for more information or to see if you can receive an immunization for hepatitis.

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Written by: Shenen Sivakumar

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