How does a person get hepatitis?

There are many different ways in which a person can get hepatitis, including sexual contact, blood transfusion, sharing needles, and more.
There are many different ways in which a person can get hepatitis, including sexual contact, blood transfusion, sharing needles, and more.

A person can get hepatitis A through the following sources:

  • Food or water contaminated with the fecal matter of an infected person
  • Sexual contact (rare) 

A person can get hepatitis B in many ways, which include:

  • Having sexual contact with an infected person
  • Blood transfusion
  • Sharing needles (while doing drugs or during procedures)
  • Being in direct contact with an infected person’s blood
  • Transferred from mother to the fetus
  • Getting an infected needle prick
  • Being in contact with an infected person’s body fluid (semen or other body fluids)
  • Tattoo needles

A person can get hepatitis C through:

  • Sharing infected needles
  • Blood transfusion
  • Being in direct contact with an infected person’s blood
  • Getting an infected needle prick
  • Having sexual contact with an infected person (less common)

Hepatitis D can be spread through:

  • Transferred from mother to the fetus
  • Being in contact with the infected fluid or blood
  • A person can get hepatitis D only if they are infected previously with hepatitis B.

Hepatitis E mainly infects people who eat or drink food or water contaminated with the virus. Under-cooked foods can also spread hepatitis E. It is more dangerous in pregnant women.

What is hepatitis?

Hepatitis is the swelling of the liver and is mainly caused due to viruses. The other causes of hepatitis include:

  • Autoimmune reactions (allergy to one’s own body’s proteins)
  • Medications, drugs, or toxins
  • Drinking alcohol in more than recommended amounts for a long time

Viral hepatitis is caused by a virus and can be of two types:

  • Acute (lasting less than six months)
  • Chronic (lasting more than six months)

The most common type of viral hepatitis includes:

  • Hepatitis A: It is caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). This form of hepatitis heals on its own and does not lead to a chronic infection. It generally does not have any complications. Hepatitis A can be prevented by vaccination.
  • Hepatitis B: Most of the patients with hepatitis B recover from it and do not become chronically infected. It can be prevented by a vaccine.
  • Hepatitis C: Hepatitis C is the most common cause of liver disease. Most of the cases can lead to chronic liver infection. It cannot be prevented using a vaccine.
  • Hepatitis D: Hepatitis D happens to people infected with the hepatitis B virus. Vaccination against hepatitis B virus gives protection from hepatitis D virus.
  • Hepatitis E: This infection is common throughout the world. Vaccines are not available everywhere.

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How do you know if you have hepatitis?

You may be a carrier of the hepatitis virus and may be unaware of it completely. This is true, particularly in hepatitis B and C. Symptoms may occur only after significant liver damage.

Symptoms of acute hepatitis appear quickly, which include:

Symptoms of chronic hepatitis develop slowly and may not be noticeable.

How do you prevent hepatitis?

You need to follow these tips to prevent hepatitis:

  • Practice safe sex using condoms
  • Do not share needles, razors, or toothbrush with anyone
  • Do not touch spilled blood
  • Practice good hygiene, such as handwashing with soap and water
  • Avoid eating undercooked shellfish and oysters
  • Avoid eating raw vegetables
  • Take vaccination on time
  • Refrain from heavy drinking
  • Drink bottled water while traveling
  • Use precautions during piercing and tattooing

What are the complications of hepatitis?

Hepatitis is considered as a serious health issue due to the following reasons:

  • Damages liver tissue
  • Spreads easily from person to person
  • Weaken the immune system of the body
  • Cause liver cancer (Hepatitis B and C)
  • Liver failure
  • Result in death

 

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Medically Reviewed on 8/12/2020
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