Also indexed as:Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C
Get a handle on hepatitis. This common liver disease can be severe, or even fatal, so it is important to know the facts. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
About This Condition
Hepatitis is a liver disease that can result from long-term alcohol abuse, infection, or exposure to various chemicals and drugs. Because hepatitis is potentially very dangerous, a healthcare professional should be involved in its treatment.
Acute viral hepatitis varies from a minor flu-like illness to an overwhelming infection resulting in liver failure and death. The early phase is characterized by loss of appetite, malaise, nausea and vomiting, and fever. Signs include a darkening of the urine and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes). Chronic hepatitis may be asymptomatic, or may manifest as malaise, fatigue, loss of appetite and a low-grade fever.
Healthy Lifestyle Tips
Avoiding alcohol is the most obvious way to avoid the liver damage it causes.
A variety of prescription drugs can, on rare occasions, cause hepatitis, as can large amounts of niacin or niacinamide (forms of vitamin B3). Excessive intake of acetaminophen or other painkillers can damage the liver, so excessive intake of these drugs should be avoided. People with hepatitis C who failed to respond to interferon therapy have been found to have a higher amount of iron within the liver.1 People with hepatitis C should, therefore, avoid iron supplements. People with any type of hepatitis should ask their physician whether any medication they are taking poses a risk to the liver.
For infectious (viral) hepatitis, good hygiene is necessary to avoid spreading the infection. The hepatitis A virus can be spread very easily through food that is handled by infected individuals; therefore, people with hepatitis A should wash their hands very carefully after using the restroom and should not handle food at work. The hepatitis viruses B and C are both transmitted by blood and sexual contact.
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2014.