Today (July 28) marks World Hepatitis Day and this year’s focus is Hepatitis Can’t Wait.
Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver, it’s usually the result of a viral infection or liver damage caused by drinking alcohol.
There are several different types of hepatitis, some of which we have mentioned below, with some passing without any serious problems. While others can be long-lasting (chronic) and cause scarring of the liver (cirrhosis), loss of liver function and, in some cases, liver cancer.
Every 30 seconds a person dies from a hepatitis related illness.
Short-term (acute) hepatitis often has no noticeable symptoms, so you may not realise you have it. If symptoms do develop, they normally include:
- muscle and joint pain
- a high temperature
- feeling and being sick
- feeling unusually tired all the time
- a general sense of feeling unwell
- loss of appetite
- tummy pain
- dark urine
- pale, grey-coloured poo
- itchy skin
- jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)
It’s important to see your GP if you have any persistent or troublesome symptoms that you think could be caused by hepatitis.
Long-term (chronic) hepatitis also may not have any obvious symptoms until the liver stops working properly and may only be picked up during blood tests. In the later stages it can cause jaundice, swelling in the legs, ankles and feet, confusion, and blood in your stools or vomit.
Alcoholic hepatitis is a type of hepatitis caused by drinking excessive amounts of alcohol over many years. The condition is common in the UK and many people don’t realise they have it.
This is because it does not usually cause any symptoms, although it can cause sudden jaundice and liver failure in some people.
Stopping drinking will usually allow your liver to recover, but there’s a risk you could eventually develop cirrhosis, liver failure or liver cancer if you continue to drink alcohol excessively.
You can reduce your risk of developing alcoholic hepatitis by controlling how much you drink. It’s recommended that you do not regularly drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week.
Autoimmune hepatitis is a rare cause of long-term hepatitis in which the immune system attacks and damages the liver. Eventually, the liver can become so damaged that it stops working properly.
Treatment for autoimmune hepatitis involves very effective medicines that suppress the immune system and reduce inflammation. It is unclear what causes autoimmune hepatitis and it’s not known whether anything can be done to prevent it.
Pall Mall offers private GP appointments that are readily available to all members of the public, on a self-paying basis or by using private medical insurance. Book an appointment today via our website or by calling us on 0161 394 0319.