Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E: Diagnosis, Management, and Treatment
Viral hepatitis is “an infection caused by viral microorganisms and attacks the human liver directly” (Moore, 2006, p. 23). Some chronic cases of viral hepatitis have the potential to cause cirrhosis (also known as scarring), cancer, and failure (Moore, 2006). These cases of hepatitis have been observed to be life-threatening. Scientists and medical experts have identified five major types of these disease-causing viruses. These viruses are identified using letters A, B, C, D, and E.
Hepatitis A Virus: This virus is common in human stools can be transmitted through contaminated food and water. Sexual intercourse is also known to transmit this virus (Moore, 2006). Patients with hepatitis A portray mild symptoms and recover within a short time.
Hepatitis B Virus: Infected blood, body fluids, and semen can transmit this microorganism (Moore, 2006). Mothers can transmit the virus to their newborn babies. Blood transfusion and needle-sharing have also been observed to transmit the virus (Moore, 2006).
Hepatitis C Virus: This virus is widely transmitted through contaminated human blood. Transfusions and sharing of needs can also transmit hepatitis C virus. Sex can also “transmit the virus but chances are minimal” (Ghany, Strader, Thomas, & Seeff, 2009, p. 1343).
Hepatitis D Virus: This virus usually affects individuals with hepatitis B. This kind of dual infection affects the health outcomes of the affected patients (Moore, 2006).
Hepatitis E Virus: Medical experts have indicated that contaminated food materials, fruits, and water can transmit this virus (Moore, 2006). The virus is also common in different developing and underdeveloped regions.
Hepatitis is usually caused by different viruses. However, the outstanding fact is that the five hepatitis types portray similar signs and symptoms. To begin with, these types of hepatitis are characterized by liver inflammation (Ghany et al., 2009). The viruses can cause short-term, acute, and chronic hepatitis. Chronic hepatitis is known to “cause various health problems such as cancer, cirrhosis, and failure” (Moore, 2006, p. 48).
These conditions portray various symptoms that must be examined carefully by caregivers. Patients with hepatitis will have yellowish eyes and skin. This condition is given the name jaundice (Ghany et al., 2009). Fatigue, headache, and abdominal pain are common symptoms associated with hepatitis. As well, the affected persons might have nausea. Loss of appetite is another common issue associated with this condition (Ghany et al., 2009). The affected individuals might complain of diarrhea and vomiting. Moore (2006) indicates that “low grade fever is common in patients with different variants of hepatitis” (p. 76). The other important thing to consider is that the condition might produce no symptoms in some individuals.
Hepatitis is a common condition that affects the health outcomes of many people. However, human beings can use various strategies to prevent and control this disease. To begin with, hepatitis can be prevented using effective vaccines. For example, hepatitis A, B, D, and E can be prevented using various vaccines. Moore (2006) argues that “family members, sex partners, and friends of individuals with chronic hepatitis should also be vaccinated” (p. 64). Blood for transfusion should be carefully screened in order to minimize cases of this condition. People should avoid sharing needs and other piercing objects.
On top of that, people can undertake a wide range of hygienic practices that can deal with this condition. For example, people should engage in protected or safe sex. Hand-washing is a positive approach towards minimizing chances of infection. Cuts should be carefully and disinfected. Ghany et al. (2009) indicate that “blood spills should also be cleaned up thoroughly” (p. 1362).
Individuals who use illegal drugs such as cocaine and heroin should avoid sharing needles. Body organs for donation should also be screened in order to minimize chances of transmitting hepatitis to unsuspecting recipients (Moore, 2006). Body fluids and bloods from other people should be avoided. These measures have been observed to prevent the condition.
For very many years, hepatitis had remained a major health challenge due to lack of adequate treatment methods. Individuals with chronic hepatitis can now benefit from different treatment options. However, the first important thing to consider is that not all infected persons should use medicines (Ghany et al., 2009). That being the case, patients should consult their healthcare practitioners in order to use the best treatment method.
The first treatment option includes the use of antiviral medications. Some of “the widely used medicines include adefovir (Hepsera), Epivir (lamivudine), Baraclude (entecavir), and Tyzeka” (Moore, 2006, p. 104). These medicines have the potential to control the virus and minimize the level of liver damage. Intron A is another synthetic drug used by individuals who do not want to avoid different antiviral medications. However, this drug has several side-effects such as chest tightness and depression (Ghany et al., 2009).
A patient with a severely damaged liver can get a transplant. The liver for transplant can come from a deceased person. Combination therapy is also used to support the health needs of patients with other complications such as HIV (Moore, 2006). Physicians should therefore be able to identify the most appropriate treatment options for their patients in order to produce positive results.
Ghany, M., Strader, D., Thomas, D., & Seeff, L. (2009). Diagnosis, Management, and Treatment of Hepatitis C: An Update. Hematology, 49(4), 1335-1374.
Moore, E. (2006). Hepatitis: Causes, Treatments and Resources. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company.