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This World Hepatitis Day, ‘Hepatitis Can’t Wait’

This World Hepatitis Day, ‘Hepatitis Can’t Wait’

The World Health Organization established World Hepatitis Day to raise awareness about hepatitis. Even though hepatitis awareness month is in May, the day July 28th was chosen for World Hepatitis Day in recognition of the birthday of Dr. Baruch Blumberg, who discovered hepatitis B in 1967 and developed the first hepatitis B vaccine in 1969.

For 2022, the theme of World Hepatitis Day is ‘Hepatitis Can’t Wait.’ In honor of this campaign, West Jefferson Medical Center can’t wait to share information about the hepatitis virus to help raise awareness and encourage you to get tested on this year’s national hepatitis testing day.

What is hepatitis?

The term hepatitis means inflammation (swelling) of the liver. The liver is one of the most important organs in your body, and it plays a role in many metabolic functions.

Essentially, the liver helps digest food, store food for energy and remove poison from the blood. It’s because of the liver our bodies can convert the food we eat into useable nutrients. The liver also converts poison or other toxic substances, such as alcohol, into harmless substances our bodies can easily release.

Hepatitis affects the liver in the form of swelling and can be caused by heavy alcohol use, certain poisons or chemicals, autoimmune diseases, or viruses. Hepatitis viruses are the most common causes of hepatitis.

People who develop hepatitis may not even know they have it because they might not experience any symptoms. When people do have symptoms, they can include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark yellow urine
  • Decreased appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Gray-colored stool
  • Jaundice
  • Joint pain
  • Nausea and vomiting

In the United States, the most common types of viral hepatitis are hepatitis A, B and C.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable virus that is extremely contagious. You can get it from close contact with someone who is infected or through a contaminated drink or food.

Hepatitis A is typically a short-term illness. Though, rarely, it can lead to liver failure. The best way to prevent hepatitis A is to get the hepatitis A vaccine.

There is no specific medication or treatment if you contract hepatitis A. If you contract hepatitis A, the best thing you can do is take it easy, stay hydrated and eat healthy foods. Receiving a vaccine is the best way to decrease your risk of contracting the virus, and what better day to get vaccinated than World Hepatitis Day?

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is contracted by contact with bodily fluids—including from mother to baby, sharing needles or sexual contact—with someone who has the virus. This virus can cause cirrhosis (liver scarring), liver cancer or liver failure.

Like hepatitis A, hepatitis B can typically be prevented with vaccination. If you contract hepatitis B, your treatment options could include antiviral medications or rest and hydration.

Hepatitis C

Like hepatitis B, you can get hepatitis C by coming in contact with the bodily fluid of someone who has the virus. There is currently not a vaccine for hepatitis C, but it can be cured through antiviral medications.

Most people who have hepatitis don’t know they have it. That’s why testing is so important and why World Hepatitis Day is recognized. Diagnosing hepatitis can save lives.

Protect you and yours on World Hepatitis Day by getting tested for hepatitis at West Jefferson Medical Center.