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Health > Hepatitis


Hepatitis Fact Sheet

Hepatitis is a highly contagious viral disease, involving inflammation of the liver.

What to look for

Many cases of hepatitis go undiagnosed because the disease is mistaken for the flu or because there are no symptoms at all.

  • loss of appetite.
  • fatigue.
  • rash
  • mild fever.
  • muscle or joint aches.
  • nausea and vomiting.
  • abdominal pain.

Hepatitis, a general term that means inflammation of the liver, applies to a group of viral disorders commonly known as hepatitis A, B, C, with new forms appearing. Another type of hepatitis is brought on through alcohol abuse or the use of drugs or by chemicals.
Hepatitis is extremely common and can often go undiagnosed because it is mistaken for the flu. Hepatitis is serious because it interferes with the liver's many vital functions.
The viruses that cause hepatitis can be transmitted in different ways, but they all have one thing in common… They infect and damage the liver in some way.
Normally the worst part of the disease is over in a few weeks but it is not completely gone for approximately nine weeks. After the disease has run its course, the person has a lifelong immunity to it.
Only occasionally is the disease fatal in the beginning phase of the disease.
Others may develop chronic hepatitis, in which the liver remains inflamed for six months or more. This condition can lead to cirrhosis and possibly death.


The affect that the different strands of hepatitis have on the liver are similar. However, the way in which the disease can be contracted varies with each strand..
Hepatitis A, is generally transmitted by food, water or blood that has been contaminated and is the lease dangerous of the disease because it does not lead to chronic inflammation of the liver. The hepatitis A virus commonly spreads through incorrect handling of food, contact with household members, sharing tools at work, and eating raw shellfish taken from polluted waters.
Hepatitis B, the most prevalent of the hepatitis viruses, can pass from mother to child at birth also through sexual contact, blood transfusions, and needle sharing by intravenous-drug users.
The good news is that most hepatitis B sufferers recover completely, but a small percentage of them can't shake the disease and may develop chronic hepatitis and possibly cirrhosis. People with chronic hepatitis become carriers, meaning they can transmit the disease to others even when their own symptoms have vanished.
Hepatitis C is usually spread the same way as hepatitis B, however, hospitals now screen for this disease and it has been greatly reduced as a result. Although hepatitis C may cause only mild symptoms or none at all. In a third of all hepatitis C cases, the source of the disease is unknown.
A simple blood test will determine whether you have the disease or not as well as which type of hepatitis. Another blood may need to be taken after the symptoms have vanished to determine if you are a carrier of the disease.

Traditional Treatment

The conventional approach is to treat the disease with rest and proper diet and to ensure it does not spread.
Limiting your activity usually will make you feel much better. However, doctors advise that it usually up to the individual when to move and when to relax. But under all circumstances avoid contact with others to keep the virus from spreading.
Good nutrition is an important part of treatment for all types of hepatitis. In most cases, eating properly means a simple regimen of nutritious, well-balanced meals that supply adequate calories.
Treatment for alcoholic, toxic, and drug-related hepatitis is generally the same as that for viral hepatitis, although hospitalisation is more common for non viral hepatitis. Simply removing the offending drink, toxin, or drug will help the patient recover enormously.
Always avoid drinking alcohol during the acute stage of this disease to help your liver.
Only severe cases of hepatitis will require hospitalisation. Usually home care is sufficient. Most people recover completely from hepatitis.
Mild flare-ups may occur over a period of several months as the disease is subsiding, but each gets better than the previous one. Do not concern yourself if you have a relapse, this does not mean you are doomed to a life of enduring this disease, it is quite normal.
If a mother has hepatitis B while giving birth, the baby is likely to catch the disease at birth. A hepatitis B vaccine now available which will reduce the chances if given to the baby immediately after delivery.
Always continue to see your doctor regularly for checkups until your blood tests show the virus has gone. A person can remain a carrier of the disease as long as the virus is present in the blood, even if all symptoms have disappeared.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Always seek professional advice with the use of natural therapies and this disease - in most cases, these therapies will be beneficial however it is possible to worsen the condition with the wrong medications or mixtures.
Homoeopathy - Homoeopaths sometimes prescribe Phosphorus to reduce liver inflammation and relieve the symptoms of hepatitis. Other remedies are Taraxacum officinale, Lycopodium, and Chelidonium majus, depending on the individual symptoms. Consult a professional homoeopath for exact preparations and dosages.
Dietary Considerations - It has been reported that large doses of Vitamin C will help hepatitis. Another vitamin which can be of benefit is beta-carotene (a vitamin A derivative). The B complex, vitamin E and the mineral chromium. Also try food supplements such as lecithin, nutritional yeast, freeze-dried liver tablets, oyster extract.
Possible herbs which can help are Echinacea, dandelion root, goldenseal, milk thistle.


The keys to avoiding hepatitis are vaccinations, good hygiene, and informed common sense.
Healthcare workers involved in the treatment of patients with hepatitis B, C should wash their hands, utensils, bedding, and clothing with soap and hot water, especially in the first two weeks of illness, when the patient is most contagious.
Ensure that you are immunised before any type of travel to hepatitis prone countries.

When to seek further professional advice

  • your flulike symptoms persist or you notice any of the more serious symptoms
  • a friend or family member comes down with hepatitis
  • your symptoms follow a visit to a country where hepatitis is common and you have not been vaccinated.

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