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Hepatitis (A, B, C)

  • What is Hepatitis (A, B, C)?

    Hepatitis refers to the inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis can be caused by viral infections, chemicals, drug abuse, some medications and immune disorders. There are various forms of Viral Hepatitis including Hepatitis A, B and C, which are caused by Hepatitis A, B, and C viruses, respectively.

    Each type of Viral Hepatitis is spread via a different method and requires different treatment.

    Hepatitis A Virus Infection causes acute inflammation of the liver and is a self-limiting disease with symptoms lasting for several weeks before the individual can recover completely. It leads to lifelong immunity.

    Hepatitis B Infection is the most common infection of the liver. The majority of infected individuals recover from Acute Hepatitis B infections and become immune to it. However some people can develop a long-term Hepatitis B infection, which leads to serious complications including chronic hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer. Hepatitis B is endemic in Singapore and around 4% of the population are Hepatitis B carriers.

    Hepatitis C Infection is responsible for the development of chronic liver disease worldwide. Most infected people can’t get rid of the virus, and consequently the virus causes ongoing damage to the liver over the years. Similar to Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C can lead to Chronic Hepatitis, Cirrhosis, Liver Failure and Liver Cancer.

  • Hepatitis A virus is transmitted through:

    • Blood contact, drug use and sexual contact (especially between practising homosexual men) with infected persons
    • Consuming shellfish from water contaminated with sewerage
    • Direct contact with food, drinks or objects contaminated with the faeces of an infected individual:
    • The “faecal-oral” route in areas of poor hygiene and overcrowding

    Hepatitis B virus is mainly found in the blood, and it can also be found in semen and vaginal secretions. Hepatitis B can be acquired through:

    • Infected expecting mothers can transmit the infection to their newborn during childbirth
    • Other activities that involve contaminated blood entering the bloodstream of a susceptible individual
    • Sharing contaminated injections among drug users
    • Unsafe sexual contact with an infected person

    Hepatitis C virus is mainly found in the blood and is transmitted when the blood of an infected person enters the bloodstream of a susceptible person, such as drug users sharing contaminated needles.

  • Some Hepatitis patients are asymptomatic. However, the general symptoms of Hepatitis may include any of the following:

    • Abdominal pain or discomfort
    • Dark urine
    • Decreased appetite
    • Fever
    • Jaundice (yellow skin and eyes)
    • Lethargy
    • Nausea and giddiness
    • Oedema
    • Painful joints
    • Pale stools
  • Hepatitis A

    There is no specific treatment for Hepatitis A but there are treatment measures that help improve your condition:

    • Avoiding alcohol
    • Getting plenty of bed rest
    • Increasing fluid intake
    • Practising good personal hygiene to prevent faecal-oral transmission to other individuals
    • Taking prescribed medication if your symptoms worsen

    Hepatitis B

    Treatment of Hepatitis B depends on the symptoms and stage of your disease and includes:

    • Anti-viral medication to stop the virus from replicating
    • Medication to relieve symptoms

    Hepatitis C

    Treatment of Hepatitis C aims to delay its complications, and these include:

    • Anti-viral medication to stop the virus from replicating
    • Avoiding alcohol consumption as it can increase the liver damage
    • Regular screening for liver cancer for Hepatitis C carriers, especially those who have Liver Cirrhosis
    • Early death
    • Liver Cancer
    • Liver Cirrhosis
    • Liver failure
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