Hepatitis Risks and Complications

Hepatitis A

The following people are at increased risk of acquiring Hepatitis A:

  • People who travel or work in places with high risks of Hepatitis A
  • Men who have sexual contact with other men
  • HIV positive persons
  • People with a condition called hemophilia
  • People who use illegal drugs through injections
  • Family members who live with a Hepatitis A positive family member, especially those who share their utensils, food and water, and towels

hepatitis risksCompared to other viral hepatitis such as Hepatitis B and C, Hepatitis A rarely causes long-term liver damage. For some rare cases, patients’ positive for Hepatitis A may suddenly have a loss of liver function. This is common in older patients with existing chronic liver problems.

Hepatitis A positive patients have a very low chance of getting complications. Some of the very rare complications of Hepatitis A are:

  • Cholestatic hepatitis – is a condition where the tiny channels that carry the bile from our liver cells gets inflamed and blocked. This results to the bile not passing from the liver to the gallbladder.
  • Fulminant hepatitis – is a fatal condition of the liver that needs urgent medical attention. Its symptoms are extreme irritability, unconsciousness leading to a comatose, and building up of fluid in the abdominal cavity.
  • Autoimmune hepatitis – is an inflammation of the liver that usually happens when the body’s immune system attacks the liver. Women are more susceptible to having this condition.
  • Recurrent Hepatitis A – is the repeat infection to Hepatitis A. This only happens to less than 20% of HAV positive people.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is transmitted through an infected person’s body fluid such as semen or vaginal discharge and blood. Thus, the following people are at high risk of getting a Hepatitis B infection:

  • People who have unsafe sex especially with multiple partners
  • Men who have sex with other men
  • Sharing of needle with an infected person
  • A baby born to an HBV-infected mother
  • Travel or work to areas with high risk of HBV

If Hepatitis B is untreated for the first six months, it may develop into chronic hepatitis and cause the following complications:

  • Fulminant hepatitis
  • Recurrent hepatitis
  • Cholestatic hepatitis
  • Liver cirrhosis – is a complication of the liver where there is a loss of liver cells and permanent scarring of the liver. These scars block the flow of blood through the liver which results in a slow processing of the nutrients, hormones, drugs, and the toxins produced by the body.
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) – is the most common type of liver cancer. The most common symptoms of HCC are yellow discoloration of the skin, bloating of the stomach, loss of appetite and abdominal pain.
  • Glomerulonephritis – is the inflammation of the tiny filters of the kidneys
  • Cryoglobulinaemia – is a condition where the blood contains large amounts of proteins that are insoluble in reduced temperatures
  • HIV infection

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is transmitted through the blood of an HCV-infected patient. People who are at high risk of Hepatitis C infection are the following:

  • Health care workers who are always exposed to infected blood
  • HIV positive patients
  • Injection drug users
  • People who had a tattoo using unsterile tools
  • People who have received blood transfusions or transplants from a donor who has not been blood tested (and is positive for hepatitis)
  • Babies born by HCV-positive mothers
  • People who drink too much alcoholic beverages

The most common complications brought about by Hepatitis C are:

  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Cryoglobulinemia
  • Liver cancer (Hepatocellular carcinoma)
  • Diabetes – a condition wherein the body has high levels of glucose or blood sugars. This is mostly because of inadequate insulin production of the body or the body does not respond to insulin.
  • Lichen planus – is a disease of the skin and mucous membranes that resemble lichen. Lichen is an organism from algae or cyanobacteria.
  • Light sensitivity which leads to having blisters on the skin
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma – is a type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system.