Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. Several different viruses cause hepatitis and they are identified by different letters:
Hepatitis A – this is a virus which can be caught from eating shellfish caught in water contaminated by infected sewage. A person infected with Hepatitis A will be secreting the virus for 2 weeks before the onset of jaundice, which is usually the first indication of the illness. It can cause prolonged jaundice and itching but complications are rare. There is no treatment other than avoiding fats, abstaining from alcohol and rest.
Hepatitis B – this virus may be contracted through infected blood, by injection from an infected needle (e.g. from body piercing, tattoing or sharing hyperdermic needles), by unprotected sex with an infected partner or a baby born to an infected mother. This can be a devastating illness causing liver failure or cancer of the liver.
Hepatitis C – transmitted in the same way as Hepatitis B, it is particularly prominent in the Middle East. It causes chronic disease which may lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.
Hepatitis D – is caused by infection with a small virus that only affects people who have Hepatitis B.
Hepatitis E – is spread in the same way as Hepatitis A, it is widespread in areas of poor sanitation. It can be fatal to women in the later stages of pregnancy.
With all forms of hepatitis it’s essential to follow a diet low in saturated fats, refined carbohydrates, sugar, fried foods and all animal fats. Avoid alcholol and coffee and make sure that your diet includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, water, vegetable soups, juices and herbal teas.
Suggested further reading:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C