According to the Mayo Clinic, the three most common forms of liver infections are:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
These infections can be caused by viruses and parasites, that lead to inflammation that tampers with normal liver function. The viruses responsible for liver damage could be spread through contaminated food/water, close contact with an infected individual, or contact with infected blood/semen. If an expecting mother has hepatitis B, there is a high chance of her passing the disease on to her child during or after delivery; if a newborn is infected, there is a chance specialists can bar transmission of the virus by administering the hepatitis B antibody and vaccine if done within the first 12 hours of life.
The Cleveland Clinic says that the hepatitis virus inflames the liver, and often causes redness, swelling, and pain. Viral hepatitis can either be acute–if it resolves in 6 months or less–or chronic–if it lasts longer than 6 months.
Signs of hepatitis vary among its subtypes, but may include:
- Jaundice (hepatitis A, B, and C)
- Joint pain (hepatitis B)
- Stomach pain (hepatitis B and C)
- Clay-colored or pale bowel movements (hepatitis A and C)
- Appetite loss (hepatitis A, B, and C)
- Fatigue (hepatitis A, B, and C)
- The sensation of feeling sick to your stomach (hepatitis A, B, and C)
- Low-grade fever (hepatitis A, B, and C)
- Dark urine (hepatitis A, B, and C)
The Cleveland Clinic suggests you reach out to your healthcare provider if you experience any of the above symptoms.
Hepatitis is frequently preventable, and most people that contract the disease tend to recover from it. It is, though, still considered a major health issue because it can lead to several serious side effects, such as:
- Liver failure
- Weakening of the immune system
- Liver cancer
- Death of liver tissue
- Easy transmission among people
Hepatitis is diagnosed with a blood test, which can also tell if the form of hepatitis you have is of viral origin.
The Cleveland Clinic lists a number of ways you may reduce your likelihood of getting hepatitis:
- Practice safe sex
- If you’re using intravenous drugs, don’t share needles with anyone else
- Get the vaccines for hepatitis A and B
- Don’t use personal items belonging to individuals with hepatitis
- Exercise precaution when getting piercings or tattoos
- Be careful when traveling to parts of the world with poor sanitation practices
- Be careful with your personal hygiene, by doing things such as washing your hands thoroughly