How are hepatitis A, B and C transmitted?
What are the symptoms of hepatitis A, B and C?
How is hepatitis A, B or C diagnosed?
How can hepatitis A, B or C be treated?
Most cases of hepatitis A will resolve spontaneously within two months. More severe liver complications will be observed in less than 1% of cases. Therefore, no treatment is necessary except in some acute cases where support and comfort measures can be used to alleviate situations such as fluid loss due to vomiting or diarrhea. In addition to rest, a healthy diet and the avoidance of substances toxic to the liver such as alcohol and certain drugs are indicated. Resolution of the infection will be accompanied by the production of antibodies against hepatitis A, which will confer lifelong immunity against subsequent infections by the virus. Immunization with a potent hepatitis A vaccine constitutes the best preventive measure, particularly for children and travellers.
The course of hepatitis B is usually more severe than that of hepatitis A. Acute liver damage is observed in less than 1% of cases, but progression to a chronic infection state is more frequent and can affect nearly 5% of patients. Subgroups of patients are particularly prone to develop complications, including those with a weak immune system, co-infected with the hepatitis C virus or infected with AIDS. As with hepatitis A, the body will produce antibodies that will free the organism from the B virus within six months and, in 95% of cases, confer lifelong immunity against the virus. In non-severe cases, support and comfort measures can be used to alleviate most symptoms of the disease. In more severe cases, such as those affecting blood clotting or causing persistent jaundice, antiviral agents can be used. In chronic hepatitis B cases, the drug interferon is added to the list of antiviral agents that can limit damage to the liver.
The production of antibodies against the hepatitis C virus will help clear the virus within six months. But contrary to hepatitis A or B, these antibodies will not confer lifelong immunity against re-infection. Cases of hepatitis C also tend to develop in chronic infections much more often than with hepatitis A or B. Chronic hepatitis C cases can degenerate and cause serious liver complications such as cirrhosis or liver cancer. Some of these cases can only be cured by a liver transplant. As with chronic hepatitis B treatment, the use of interferon and other antiviral drugs constitutes the basis of chronic hepatitis C treatment.
Did you know?
The number of reported cases of hepatitis B has stabilized in Quebec in recent years. This demonstrates the importance of vaccination, especially for people at risk.
Need more information?
For more information, do not hesitate to contact Biron’s customer service at 1 833 590-2712.