Hepatitis: Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

The term ‘hepatitis’ refers to the inflammation of the liver, which is commonly caused by a virus (hepatitis A, B, C, D or E), but can also occur after taking certain drugs or exposure to poisons. It damages liver cells and may lead to cirrhosis, in which the function of the liver is seriously and irreversibly impaired.

Take note of the following symptoms, treatment procedures, as well as what you can do to prevent contracting hepatitis:

Symptoms

• Asthaenia (tiredness unconnected to any effort)
• Loss of appetite, nausea
• General poor health accompanied by weight loss
• Oedema (swelling) of the lower limbs
• Whites of the eyes and skin and tissue of the eyelids turn yellow (jaundice)
• Swelling (oedema) of the abdomen
• Cirrhosis and hepatitis tend to have similar symptoms. However, in cirrhosis, the symptoms may not be evident until the disease process has been occurring for several years

Treatment

• Consult your doctor immediately if you have one or several of the above symptoms; rapid detection aids optimal management of the condition.

• A full examination should be made in order to eliminate similar conditions requiring different treatment (such as gallstones and cancer of the liver, gall bladder or pancreas).

• Diagnosis can be confirmed by means of a blood test.

Preventative Measures

Here some things you can do to protect yourself from contracting hepatitis:

Stop all alcohol consumption and recreational drug use.

• Make a point of eating dried fruit, grapes, figs, spinach, watercress, potatoes, carrots, artichokes, rice, wholemeal bread, yogurt, chicory (in salad), sunflower oil, olive oil, brewer’s yeast, sesame seeds.

• If you belong to a high risk group for hepatitis B or C (sex with different partners, intravenous drug use, health worker), regular testing for the presence of these viruses increases the chances of successful treatment.

• Vaccinations are available against hepatitis A and B.

• In the acute stages of the disease, a protein-free diet may be recommended.

   

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