Everyone has caught at least one of them, if not must have been vaccinated against some of them during childhood.
“Hepatitis” also know as “صفيرة“, is a medical condition during which the liver (an organ inside the body partly responsible for eliminating the medicine you take and helping enormously in the digestion process by secreting many enzymes) is inflamed and enlarged, causing it to work improperly.
If the condition progresses, doesn’t heal by itself or is not treated, it may lead to the destruction of the organ or it being completely useless, either by fibrosis or ultimately cirrhosis.
Without going into the details and the symptomatology of the disease, here’s what you need to know about it:
There are 6 known types of hepatitis: A, B, C, D, E and G.
- Most common type, touching mainly children and young adults.
- Heals by itself almost every time.
- Does not lead to long-term liver problems.
- Transmission mode: getting in contact with food or drinks water that has come with infected stool. The virus can be spread too if a person doesn’t wash his/her hands well after changing a diaper.
- Once you had the disease, you will never have it again and your body develops protection against it that lasts forever. The virus completely disappears from your body.
- People who have caught this type can certainly donate blood.
Hepatitis B and D:
- Transmission mode: exposure to infected blood or body secretions. In infected individuals, the virus can be found in the blood, semen, vagina discharge, breast milk, and saliva. Hepatitis B is not spread through food, water, or by casual contact.
In Lebanon there are 3 ways of getting the disease:
1- By using contaminated needles for injecting illicit drugs, tattooing, body piercing..
2- By sexual intercourse with an infected partner.
3- By transmission from the mother to her child at birth (the most common in the country).
- Transmission can be significantly reduced through vaccination.
- Hepatitis D or “Delta” agent is a type of virus that causes symptoms only in people who also have a hepatitis B infection. It may come alongside it during the “acute” phase, or complicate it during the “chronic” phase, worsening the infection.
- Transmission mode: the same as hepatitis B, affects all ages.
- All infected people from both types B an D carry the virus for their lifetime. It remains silent in their body and can wake up anytime and produce the disease, which can be very severe. They can never donate blood.
- Transmission mode: most commonly via the bloodstream (use of drugs) although less frequently during sexual intercourse.
- Can occur at any age, but is more common in adults, unlike hepatitises B and D which are more common among sexually active young adults mainly.
- Once infected, the virus is carried for the lifetime and people with this type can never donate blood.
- Transmission mode: through contaminated water within endemic areas (same as type A).
- It is self-limited and heals by itself.
- Affects mostly young adults, but can be serious in pregnant women.
- People with this type can safely donate blood.
To sum up everything for you, take a look at this chart overview:
How to know which type you carry?
It is very easy. Nowadays, simple blood tests looking for the hepatitis B, C and D viruses or antibodies for all types of the disease, can tell exactly which one you had contracted.
If you don’t know whether you had the disease or not, do not worry, automatic screening is done to the blood if ever you carry the disease and try to donate. It is being done since 1985 for hepatitis B and 1992 for hepatitis C.
This way, you can feel relieved and if you just had hepatitis A or E, donate at the nearest occasion! ;)
One thing to keep in mind however, is to make sure EVERY ONE OF YOUR CHILDREN and YOURSELF and simply EVERY PERSON YOU KNOW gets vaccinated for hepatitis B in order to avoid it. Scientists are working hardly to make an efficient vaccine for hepatitis C, which hopefully will see the light in the near future and come to the rescue of many.