World Hepatitis Day (WHD) takes places every year on 28th July bringing the world together under a single theme to raise awareness of the global burden of viral hepatitis and to influence real change.
Worldwide, 325 million people are living with viral hepatitis unaware. Without finding the undiagnosed and linking them to care, millions will continue to suffer, and lives will be lost. On World Hepatitis Day, 28th July, we call on people from across the world to take action, raise awareness and join in the quest to find the “missing millions”.
You can join the quest to find the missing millions on their website here: http://www.worldhepatitisalliance.org/
What is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis is an inflammatory condition of the liver, commonly caused by a viral infection, or also from consuming excessive amounts of alcohol over several years.
Out of the 325 million people with viral hepatitis globally, upward of 290 million (9 in 10 people!) are living with hepatitis B or hepatitis C without knowing. A cure for hepatitis C is available, as well as treatment and a vaccine for hepatitis B.
Symptoms of Hepatitis
Short-term hepatitis often has no noticeable symptoms, so it may be difficult to know whether you have it.
- muscle and joint pain
- a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
- feeling and being sick
- feeling unusually tired all the time
- a general sense of feeling unwell
- loss of appetite
- abdominal (tummy) pain
- dark urine
- pale, grey-coloured stools
- itchy skin
- yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice)
In the later stages it can cause jaundice, swelling in the legs, ankles and feet, confusion, and blood in your stools or vomit.
We’d recommend seeing your GP if you have any of these symptoms persistently.
Types of Hepatitis
Hepatitis A is caused by the hepatitis A virus. It’s most commonly contracted by consuming food or water contaminated by feces from a person infection with hepatitis A.
Hepatitis B is common infection worldwide and is usually spread from infected pregnant women to their babies. In rare cases it can be transmitted by infectious body fluids, such as blood, unprotected sex and injecting drugs. It’s uncommon in the UK.
Hepatitis C is the most common type of viral hepatitis in the UK. Again it can be transmitted by blood-to-blood contact, usually by shared needles.
Hepatitis D only affects people who are already infected with hepatitis B, as it needs it to survive. Long-term infection with hepatitis D and hepatitis B can increase your risk of developing serious problems, such as cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Hepatitis E is mainly associated with the consumption of raw or under cooked pork meat or offal, but also with the wild boar meat, venison and shellfish.
It’s generally a mild and short-term infection that doesn’t require any treatment, but it can be serious in some people, such as those who have a weakened immune system.
Alcoholic hepatitis is caused by excessive alcohol consumption over many years. This type is common in the UK with many people not realising they have it due to the lack of any symptoms.
Stopping drinking will usually allow you to recover, but if you continue to drink alcohol there’s a risk that you can develop cirrhosis, liver failure or liver cancer.
Autoimmune hepatitis is a rare cause of long-term hepatitis in which the immune system attacks and damages the liver. It’s not clear what causes this type of hepatitis.
Treatment for autoimmune hepatitis involves medicines that suppress the immune system and reduces inflammation.
Remember you can join the quest to find the missing millions here or you can use the page to learn more about one of the biggest global health threats of our time. Remember, together we can eliminate viral hepatitis.