Understanding the Causes of Hepatitis A

Inflamed livers can be unanimously blamed upon discovered contraction of Hepatitis A—a disease of the liver caused by the Hepatitis A Virus (HAV) characterized by symptoms like fever, malaise, loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark-colored urine, and yellowing of the whites of the eyes and the skin. The Hepatitis A Virus is one of the most frequent causes of infection borne from the food we eat. However, unlike Hepatitis B and C, HAV infection does not cause chronic liver disease, and is rarely fatal. In fact, people who have been infected become immune to the virus for the rest of their lives. Isn’t that relieving to think about? But, Hepatitis A can cause debilitating symptoms and acute liver failure which is fatal.

The disease is known, and most people have knowledge regarding it, but there are misconceptions on how a person contracts the disease, leading to misguidance and naivety on what really transmits the virus to a person’s unsuspecting body.

The most common cause of contracting the disease is through food or water contamination. Medical practitioners tell us that HAV is excreted in the stool of people infected with Hepatitis A. Eating food prepared by an infected person who didn’t wash his hands after using the bathroom is one of the top culprits for acquiring the unwanted virus into your body. Drinking contaminated water or eating food washed in untreated water can also lead to infection.

Furthermore, be wary and avoid putting your hands into your mouth if you have been in public for a long period of time. Not to say that friends and family have the disease, but one can never be too careful. Wash your hands before eating, because placing your fingers or an object that came into contact with an infected person’s stool into your mouth can transmit the HAV without much hold-up. Having close personal contact with an infected person when caring for the sick or through sex is also a way for contracting the virus.

All the legitimate causes mentioned above have one thing in common. The virus is transmitted from one person to another through the fecal-oral route. That being said, one cannot contract Hepatitis from being coughed or sneezed at by an infected person, sitting next to an infected person, or hugging someone with the disease. And a baby cannot get Hepatitis A from breast milk.

Stressing the importance of proper hygienic practices and safe sex time and time again is always necessary to remind people that a sanitary lifestyle is one way of avoiding Hepatitis A—a nuisance in the human body.

The HAV attacks the liver, and the liver is the most versatile organ of the human body. Removing harmful chemicals from the blood, fighting infection, helping digest food, storing nutrients and vitamins, and storing energy are only a few of its known functions. So take care of your liver, and mind your hygiene properly.

References:

  1. Davis K., (2016, March 31). Hepatitis A: Causes, symptoms, and treatment [Web blog post]. Retrieved December 10, 2016 from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/308421.php.
  1. Hoofnagle J. H., (2002). The new book of knowledge (Vol. 8), (pp. 115). Danbury, Connecticut: Grolier Incorporated.
  1. Mayo Clinic, (2014). Diseases and conditions: Hepatitis A causes. Retrieved December 10, 2016 from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hepatitis-a/basics/causes/con-20022163.
  1. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, (2012). Hepatitis A. Retrieved December 10, 2016 from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/liver-disease/viral-hepatitis/hepatitis-a.
  1. Silverstein A., & Silverstein V., (2002). The new book of knowledge (Vol. 11), (pp. 267-269). Danbury, Connecticut: Grolier Incorporated.
  1. World Health Organization, (2016). Hepatitis A. Retrieved December 10, 2016 from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs328/en/.
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