The liver plays many important roles in the body including filtering toxins, storing minerals, and producing bile to help digestion. This organ is located in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen. Hepatitis is considered an inflammation of the liver. The World Health Organization explains that this condition can be caused by many different factors including infections, toxic substances (i.e. alcohol or certain drugs) and autoimmune diseases. The most common cause of hepatitis is the hepatitis virus. Although there are five specific hepatitis viruses that scientists have identified and labeled with the letters A-E, all forms of the virus cause liver disease and have varying degrees of importance.
World Hepatitis Day is on July 28, 2017. A major milestone has been put into place to eliminate hepatitis. The World Health Organization held a Health Assembly in Switzerland recently where 194 governments around the world came together to adopt a strategy to eliminate hepatitis B and C by the year 2030. This public health goal is attainable with the help of proper education and action.
Hepatitis A and E are transmitted mainly through eating or drinking contaminated food or beverage. Hepatitis B, C, and D are transmitted through contact with infected blood, and in some cases can be passed on from mother to child during childbirth. One way to lower your risk of contracting certain types of hepatitis is to get vaccinated. Currently there are vaccines for Hepatitis A, B and E. Treatment options often vary depending on how the disease was contracted, what type it is and how severe it is.
It is important to be able to identify hepatitis if you think you or someone you know may have it. Signs and symptoms of acute hepatitis include dark urine, abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, and yellowing of the skin and eyes. Chronic hepatitis forms at a slower rate so some of these symptoms may be harder to notice at first.
One way to get involved in the campaign to end hepatitis is to help spread the word. A social media campaign will be launched by World Hepatitis Alliance, in connection with World Hepatitis Day called #NOhep. By joining this campaign stakeholders want to speak out, be engaged and take action to hold the world accountable for eliminating the illness that affects 400 million people worldwide. For more information on hepatitis and #NOhep check out the following websites:
Information provided by Sarah Conyers, student intern with Community Outreach at Augusta Health. To contact Dana Breeding, RN, relating to the information in this article or with questions/comments/concerns, please call (540) 332-4988 or (540) 932-4988.