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Hepatitis: Treatment and Prevention

— April 22, 2019

Hepatitis can be a life-changing diagnosis. Fortunately, there are many more approaches to treating it than in time past, as well as tried-and-true methods of prevention.

Characterized by liver inflammation, hepatitis can be a limiting condition, which can also lead to scarring (fibrosis), cirrhosis, or even liver cancer. 

The most common causes are hepatitis viruses, although certain drugs, alcohol, infections, other toxic substances and autoimmune diseases can also lead to it. 

In the following, let’s discuss causes, symptoms and treatment options. 

Causes and Symptoms 

Five types of hepatitis viruses (A, B, C, D and E) are concerns due to illness or death, as well as the potential for an outbreak or epidemic. 

For example, Hepatitis B and C are why millions of people are suffering from a chronic disease. They can also cause cancer or cirrhosis. 

On the other hand, Hepatitis A and E are due to contaminated food or water ingestion.

For Hepatitis B, C, and D, they sometimes occur due to parenteral contact with a contaminated body fluid. 

Usual virus transmission modes include receipt of infected blood or its products, using contaminated equipment, or invasive medical procedure. In some cases of Hepatitis B, the virus can transmit from the mother to the baby at birth, by sexual contact, or from a family member to a child.

Acute infections can occur with symptoms, including yellowing of the eyes or skin (jaundice) extreme fatigue, abdominal pain, vomiting or nausea, or in some cases with little to no symptoms at all. It is because some forms of short-term or acute hepatitis has no obvious symptoms, so sufferers might not realize they have it.

But aside from the earlier mentioned symptoms, others noticeable signs of the disease include,

  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Feeling unwell overall
  • Itchy skin
  • High temperature, fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling sick
  • Grey or pale stool
  • Feeling fatigued all the time

If you have troublesome, persistent symptoms, see your doctor for a diagnosis.

On the other hand, chronic hepatitis can also occur but might not show signs and symptoms until the liver fails, unfortunately. This type of hepatitis may only be detected through blood tests. 

Jaundice, blood in the vomit or stool, confusion and swollen ankles, legs and feet show up in the later stages.


After a few weeks, many with hepatitis A and E can get well from the disease on their own. It also helps them speed the process up by taking medications, abstaining from alcohol and taking a lot of rest to relieve symptoms.

On the other hand, people suffering from Hepatitis B get treatment with medications like adefovir, dipivoxil, and lamivudine. 

For people with Hepatitis C, they’re usually recommended a combination of ribovarin and peginterferon.

For liver failure caused by hepatitis B, C or D, they undergo a liver transplant.

Man using tongs to place marijuana on scale; image by Get Budding, via
Man using tongs to place marijuana on scale; image by Get Budding, via

For some looking for alternative medicine, they turn to medical marijuana for hepatitis that they can buy at a cannabis dispensary.

What’s the relationship between the two? Take note that MMJ alone doesn’t treat the infection or any of the complications leading to cirrhosis or liver disease. 

What it does is reduce symptoms, including medication-induced nausea. Cannabis, which may be inhaled by smoking, absorbed under the tongue as a tincture or ingested through edibles, may be the next promising alternative medicine for hepatitis C, in particular.

And, based on an observation of a huge number of HCV sufferers, MMJ users had more favorable health status, lower risk of liver cirrhosis and lower total healthcare spending than non-MMJ users had, according to this source.

For those who have survived the transplant or liver cancer, they seek help from a rehabilitation center for faster recovery in addition to follow-up care. 

Cancer rehabilitation may be recommended and services, including career counseling, physical therapy, pain management, emotional counseling, and nutritional planning may be involved. A rehab plan’s main goal is to help a patient regain control of his/her life and become productive or independent again. 


Hepatitis A prevention includes immunization and consists of up to three vaccine doses for children age 1 to 18 years old. A booster dose for adults is also needed after the initial dose and is given between 6 and 12 months after the initial dose.

For Hepatitis B prevention, there are effective vaccines that can provide protection lasting for at least 15 years. 

Newborns, people up to 18 years old, and adults participating in activities that increase the risk of infection should be vaccinated, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. But for full protection, three injections must be administered over a 6-12 month period.

General tips: 

  • You can lower risk of transmission by using latex condoms.
  • Before eating or preparing food, wash your hands.
  • Do not share your personal items, such as nail clippers, razors or toothbrushes.
  • Wash your hands after using the bathroom.
  • When traveling to certain regions, avoid drinking tap water.

Knowing the types, causes and symptoms of hepatitis, you’ll be able to figure out some signs to watch out for and get immediate help in case you notice any of those in youself or a loved one. Regarding treatment, a GP can help with the right approach and plan. Finally, you can follow the tips for prevention outlined above to lower your risk of acquiring one of the Hepatitis viruses.

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