Hepatitis is a disease where the liver becomes inflamed and damaged.
The liver is a very important organ for filtering the blood and maintaining the body’s nutrition through making proteins and storing vitamins and iron. If the liver cannot perform its normal function, serious illness can occur.
Symptoms of hepatitis
- Abdominal pain
- Dark urine
- Joint pain
- Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes)
Types of hepatitis
Hepatitis is usually caused by a hepatitis virus infection, but other causes include bacterial infection, alcohol and drug use.
There are many different types of hepatitis viruses. Each is given a letter with the most common being hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. In some cases hepatitis may also be caused by non-hepatitis specific viruses such as the Epstein-Barr virus.
The treatments of hepatitis differ based on the type and cause of hepatitis.
Hepatitis and travel
Travelling provides the opportunity to soak in the beauty and diversity of the world, but it is essential to always ensure your health and safety is secure at the same time. Hepatitis viruses are very common around the world so it is important to take the necessary precautions before and during travelling.
There are individual vaccines available for prevention of Hepatitis A & Hepatitis B infection. There are also a combined Hepatitis A&B vaccinations. Hepatitis B is currently provided on the Australian childhood immunisation schedule. If you are unsure of your immunity or whether you have been vaccinated, you may find more information on the Australian Immunisation Register or otherwise please discuss with your doctor.
Transmission for the hepatitis A virus occurs through direct contact with infected food, drinks or objects contaminated with faeces, therefore the best preventative measure for the hepatitis A virus is good hygiene.
Hepatitis B is passed on via blood and body fluids. Transmission through blood is prevented by avoiding shared injecting equipment and also avoiding tattoo parlours, hair salons and nail salons where instruments are contaminated. Transmission through bodily fluids is prevented through practising safe sex.
If you’re planning to travel overseas to countries where hepatitis infection is more common, you should get advice from your local GP or a travel clinic 4-6 weeks before you depart. The doctors at Southgate Medical specialise in Travel Medicine and would be happy to provide further advice regarding vaccinations.