The Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment of Hepatitis
~ by Jo Jordan
Can something as simple as colon and liver cleansing help fight off the harmful effects of Hepatitis? Richard, who contracted Hepatitis C in the 1970s thinks so! In fact, for the last 15 years he has rejected prescription treatments and opted instead for an alternative health regimen to keep his Hepatitis C at bay. Read Richard's full story...
Harsh facts: hepatitis and liver cleansing
Hepatitis has been making the rounds since Dr. Hippocrates pronounced it an infectious disease in the 5th century. Today, there are at least five known strains – and counting. Hepatitis B alone affects over 300 million people around the world. But what do we know about this disease that some physicians are touting as more deadly than AIDS?
What is hepatitis?
A gastroenterological disease, in general terms hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis is not one, but many diseases in which the liver becomes inflamed, and its cells are damaged as a result of inflammatory chemicals being produced and released in the liver.
Though hepatitis commonly results from one of five recognized hepatitis viruses – A, B, C, D, or E – it can also be caused by excessive alcohol, toxins, an unhealthy diet, various drugs, autoimmune diseases (i.e. rheumatoid arthritis) and metabolic disorders, poisons, non-viral infections, and certain other viral infections (i.e. yellow fever, herpes, mumps, rubella) as well as some diseases of the biliary system.
Some forms of hepatitis are sudden and short-term (acute) while others are long lasting (chronic) and sometimes lifelong. While some types can become life threatening, others have few or no long-lasting effects.
- Approximately 25 percent of people who consume three or more alcoholic drinks per day during a period of ten to fifteen years will experience some level of alcoholic hepatitis.
- One of the most common infectious diseases in the world, the yearly death toll from hepatitis B infections is estimated at between 500,000 and 1.2 million worldwide.
- Though hepatitis C, a lethal virus for which no vaccine exists, can remain asymptomatic for years, it may eventually lead to a chronic form of hepatitis, culminating in cirrhosis.
- Hepatitis D and E are less common, and can occur in conjunction with other forms of hepatitis as well as on their own.
Hepatitis A To E
Is usually spread through water or food that has been contaminated by the feces of someone with the virus, and is not normally spread through blood.
Those most at risk are people who live in areas where outbreaks of hepatitis A are common; international travelers; people living with, or those having sex with, infected person(s); and, during outbreaks, intravenous drug users, men who have in sex with men, and day care children and employees.
A preventative vaccine is available, and travelers are advised to avoid tap water and practice exemplary hygiene and sanitation while traveling. Hepatitis A often resolves itself after several weeks.
Is transmitted through contact with infected blood, sexual intercourse with infected person(s), or from mother to child during childbirth.
At risk are people living with, or those having sex with, infected person(s); men who have sex with men; intravenous drug users; children of immigrants from areas where the disease persists; infants born to infected mothers; health care workers; hemodialysis patients; international travelers; and, though these cases are now quite rare, people who received a transfusion of blood or blood products prior to July 1992, or clotting factors made before 1987. Tattooing and touching the wounds of an infected person are also cited as risk factors.
A preventative hepatitis B vaccine is available. While acute hepatitis B often resolves on its own, chronic hepatitis B patients can be treated with alpha interferon, peginterferon, lamivudine, or adefovir dipivoxil.
Is spread primarily through contact with infected blood, and less commonly through sexual contact and childbirth.
Most at risk are intravenous drug users; people who have sex with infected person(s); people who have multiple sexual partners; health care workers; infants born to infected women; hemodialysis patients; and, though these cases are now quite rare, people who received a transfusion of blood or blood products prior to July 1992, or clotting factors made before 1987.
There is no vaccine for hepatitis C, and the only way to prevent the disease is to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus. Avoiding behaviors such as sharing drug needles or personal items like toothbrushes, razors, and nail clippers with infected person(s) is recommended. Chronic hepatitis C can be treated with peginterferon alone or with a combination of peginterferon and ribavirin.
Is transmitted through contact with infected blood. This disease occurs only in people who are already infected with hepatitis B. Others at risk are intravenous drug users; people who have hepatitis B and those who have sex with person(s) infected with hepatitis D; or people living with infected person(s). Though these cases are now quite rare, people who received a transfusion of blood or blood products before July 1992, or clotting factors made before 1987.
Prevention involves immunization against hepatitis B for those not already infected, and avoiding exposure to infected blood, contaminated needles, and an infected person's personal items. Chronic hepatitis D is treated with alpha interferon.
Is spread through water or food that has been contaminated by feces from someone with the virus. Though uncommon in the U.S.A., international travelers, people living in areas where hepatitis E outbreaks are common, and people who live or have sex with infected person(s) are at risk.
There is no vaccine for hepatitis E, and the only way to prevent the disease is to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus. This means avoiding tap water when traveling internationally, and practicing good hygiene and sanitation. Hepatitis E usually resolves itself after several weeks or months.
What is cirrhosis?
Cirrhosis is a liver disorder caused by a loss of liver cells and severe scarring of liver tissue. A result of chronic liver disease, cirrhosis is characterized by the replacement of liver tissue with fibrotic scar tissue and regenerative nodules.
Cirrhosis damages the liver so extensively that the organ may no longer be able to function, sometimes resulting in death. The condition is irreversible in its advanced stages, with the only option being a liver transplant. Cirrhosis leads to liver cancer in approximately 10 percent of all cases. In 2000, it was the leading cause of death in the U.S.A.
Symptoms of cirrhosis may include, but are not limited to:
- An increase in male breast tissue
- Ascites, excess fluid between the membranes lining the abdomen and abdominal organs
- Change in liver size
- Changes in the nails and palms
- Dark urine
- Impotence, infertility, or loss of sexual drive due to reduced hormone secretion from the testes or ovaries
- Jaundice, a yellowing of the skin, eye, and mucus membranes
- Strong, sweet-smelling breath
- Weight loss
While in the western world, cirrhosis is most commonly caused by alcoholism and hepatitis C, there are various other causes such as autoimmune hepatitis or chronic hepatitis B, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), primary biliary cirrhosis or primary sclerosing cholangitis, hereditary hemochromatosis, Wilson's disease, alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency, and cardiac cirrhosis.
From virus to disease
Though the exact mechanism by which hepatitis viruses develop into the disease is unknown, the onset of hepatitis is thought to be the immune system wreaking havoc, rather than a result of the virus itself.
A complex network of chemicals, cells, tissues, and organs, the immune system is a designed to protect us against attack from foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses.
When an attack is perceived, the immune system responds by producing chemicals, antibodies designed to destroy the invader. The liver, it appears, becomes inflamed as a result of the presence of these antibodies, rather than because of the hepatitis virus.
Other causes of hepatitis
Many drugs can cause hepatitis. Some include the anti-fungal ketoconazole, certain oral contraceptives, ibuprofen, an antibiotic called nitrofurantoin, an anti-depressant known as amitriptyline, the anti-hypertensive treatments methyldopa and nifedipine, the antiarrhythmic amiodarone, and the aesthetic gas halothane.
A variety of common environmental toxins can cause hepatitis. These include:
- Amatoxin-containing mushrooms
- Carbon tetrachloride, a dry cleaning agent; also used in fire extinguishers
- Chloroform, used in refrigerants, propellants, resins, and as a solvent
- Paracetamol, aka acetaminophen
- Trichloroethylene, an industrial solvent used to remove grease from fabricated metal parts, some textiles, as a refrigerant, and fumigant
- Yellow phosphorous, an industrial toxin
Hepatitis – signs and symptoms
The symptoms of various hepatitis forms are similar, the most noticeable being jaundice. As the viral infection spreads throughout the liver, the organ becomes enlarged, often causing abdominal pain.
- Abdominal pain
- Dark urine
- Enlarged liver
- General achiness
- Joint aches
- Loss of appetite
- Mild fever
- Vomiting two to three times per day, during the first five days
Unfortunately, with some chronic forms of hepatitis there are very few signs, and symptoms occur only when a longstanding inflammation has developed into cirrhosis. Although as many as 50 percent of hepatitis B carriers, and 75 percent of children with hepatitis A never show symptoms, they are nonetheless carriers of the disease, and can pass the virus on to others.
The appearance of jaundice is often the first step in diagnosing hepatitis. Diagnostic blood tests are available for all forms of viral hepatitis.
Prognosis for hepatitis
There are various treatments, but no known cure for hepatitis. As much bed rest as possible is highly recommended, as well as a healthy diet and lots of fluids. Avoiding alcoholic drinks is critical.
Prognosis varies a great deal, and is dependent upon the cause. Many hepatitis A and B patients make a complete recovery within a few months. Hepatitis A sufferers become immune to the hepatitis A virus, and will not become re-infected with the disease.
About ten percent of hepatitis B patients develop serious complications such as cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer, as do approximately fifteen percent of patients with hepatitis C, who are prone to chronic hepatitis or other liver-related disorders.
Prevention, treatment, and caring for your liver
There are vaccines for hepatitis A and B, and these are recommended for those at risk such as health care workers or those traveling to areas where hepatitis is common. Vaccines are also available for people who've already been exposed to hepatitis A or B and, if given soon after exposure, can be quite effective.
Hepatitis infection can be avoided by the implementation of certain lifestyle regimens:
- Boil water thoroughly, and wash fruits and vegetables before eating when traveling in undeveloped areas.
- Do not share needles with other intravenous drug users.
- Do not share personal items of the skin damaging variety, such as toothbrushes, razors, scissors, and nail files.
- Use condoms during oral, vaginal, and anal sex.
- Wash hands frequently, especially after toilet use or contact with another's blood.
- When living and working in unsanitary or heavily populated conditions, it is especially important to implement these precautions.
Case studies: success stories
"I'd rather die riding my Harley then takes drugs for my Hepatitis C..."
Richard contracted hepatitis C three decades ago. For the past 15 years, he has resisted prescription treatments, opting instead to keep deadly hepatitis C-related diseases at bay through an alternative health regimen. Richard believes in encouraging 4 or 5 regular bowel movements each day in order to clear his immune system of toxins.
He has completely changed his diet, cut his transit time by 66 percent, and keeps his colon pristine with colon cleanses from Puristat. Read Richard's full story...
Detoxify your liver – a step on the road to recovery
While mainstream medicine does not have a lot to offer in terms of hepatitis treatment, liver cleansings such as those comprised of milk thistle, as well as other remedies formulated from various herbs, are recommended by some doctors as they are proving to be effective in helping to alleviate the symptoms of liver diseases.
Detailed studies of hepatitis – and the people living near environments that are heavily polluted with respect to air, water, land, and industrial pollution – have revealed that hepatitis viruses infect a high percentage of the population in these areas.
Environmental pollution comes in many forms. The air we breathe is choking with car exhaust and burned fossil fuels; our waterways are ripe with pesticides, domestic sewage, bacteria, fungi, and viruses; and the soil in which we grow our food is poisoned with fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides. And some communities are now dealing with radiation leakages from nuclear plants.
The products we use to make our lives easier are exacting a toxic toll on us, too. We are surrounded by steel and pulp mill waste, and sulphurous dust from cement factories. The sprays, lotions, and perfumes we douse ourselves with each day are full of harmful chemicals. We are bombarded with noise from traffic and city living. Even music – ubiquitous in every social setting - is considered a pollutant, taxing the body alongside the chemical s we're exposed to.
Toxins are a heavy burden on our bodies' immune systems. Since the liver is such a vital organ – the one responsible for regulating certain chemicals in the blood and removing substances that are, or may become, toxic – it stands to reason that ridding itself of the pollutants we ingest, inhale, and absorb through our skin on a daily basis has become an enormous job.
Some doctors recommend liver cleansings to help purge environmental toxins from the liver. Detoxifying your liver can help remove unwanted pollutants, and enable it to function properly. A cleansed liver can help relieve some of the symptoms of a faltering liver, as well as curb toxic build-up before it develops into liver disease.
It's vital to do everything you can to protect your liver, one of your most valued assets. Detoxification and cleansing can go a long way toward helping fight hepatits, hepatitis c, hepatitis b, and ridding the body of toxins, rejuvenating energy levels, and refreshing your immune system.
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