Everyone has heard the dreaded H word, but now much do we actually know about it? The H word is of course hepatitis, and one form of it is among the most prevalent global health problems, affecting millions of people around the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Hepatitis refers to inflammation of the liver, but there are several different viruses that fall under the umbrella of this health hazard. Like any scary (and potentially fatal) health issue, there is a lot of information (and misinformation) about it out there. Here are seven myths and facts in time for the World Hepatitis Day awareness campaign…
1. There are Five Forms of Hepatitis
We most commonly hear about Hep A, B or C, because they tend to be the most prominent in any large population. However, there’s also the lesser known (but especially nasty) cousins, Hep D and E. The separate viruses each carry their own symptoms, and have their own methods of transmission, notes WHO.
While Hep A is usually caused by consuming contaminated food or water, it is generally not serious if treated. Hep B is caused by contact with a contaminated person through blood (or other bodily fluids), and is often fatal from complications. Hep C is also bloodborne and can be mild or a lifelong affliction, while Hep D requires a Hep B infection to replicate (it’s considered a “superinfection”). Hep E spreads through fecal matter and the mouth (often in contaminated water), and can also be very serious.