One of the biggest health threats in the world is hepatitis. Hepatitis is a very dangerous virus that comes in many forms, but they all have major impact on the liver. Over 300 million people are affected by this disease, many of whom are undiagnosed and untreated. Every 28th of July, organizations celebrate World Hepatitis Day, aimed at raising awareness and finding the missing cases by encouraging people to act on getting tested.
Hepatitis accounts for two out of every three liver cancer related deaths, and overall accounts for over one million deaths per year in the United States. While there are many types (Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E), Hepatitis C is the most common form. It is most commonly transmitted through sharing needles, contact with infected blood, and less commonly, sex. However, it can also be transmitted through tattooing, piercing, and acupuncture.
Though in some instances symptoms may not appear, according to WebMD there are a few common symptoms for all types of hepatitis.
- Dark urine
- Stomach pain
- Yellowing of skin/eyes
- Loss of appetite
- Pale or clay-colored stool
WebMD also supplied a few additional facts on Hepatitis C. Unlike hepatitis A and B, there is no current vaccine for hepatitis C. Although there is no cure, there are a few techniques that aid in prevention.
- Never share needles – Though this plays a bigger factor for drug users who are at greater risk, even simple things like sharing a straw can pass on the virus.
- Avoid direct exposure to blood – Particularly for healthcare professionals, it’s important to take steps to avoid direct contact with blood and be sure all tools used to extract blood are discarded or safely sterilized.
- Don’t share personal items – Items like razors, toothbrushes, nail clippers, etc., can easily be infected with hepatitis C due to their constant exposure to blood.
- Choose parlors wisely – Make sure tattoo or piercing shops are sanitary and their items used get cleaned or disposed for new customers.
- Practice safe sex
Although World Hepatitis Day has passed, make sure to go out and get screened. With over 300 million cases left undiagnosed, you could be one of many living with the virus with no symptoms. If you have any questions be sure to reach out to your doctor, and they’ll be able to provide more information on hepatitis virus and ways to protect your liver.