I am often asked if I am ever stumped by a question. The answer is absolutely "YES". I always promise to find out from my wonderful friendly docs and get back at the opening of next weeks show. Recently, I got a question about Hepatitis and I was not exactly clear on the answer. I did my research and answered the question the following week, but I am concerned you might have missed that next show. So here's what I found…..

HEPATITIS A is spread by food or water contaminated by feces, primarily by poor hand washing when preparing food. It may also come from polluted drinking water. Signs and symptoms include weakness, headache, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, dark orange urine, jaundiced eyes and skin. Bed rest is advised and you will recover very quickly with no long-term side effects, plus you will be immune to Hep. A for life. There is a simple and effective vaccine for Hepatitis A and this is recommended if you will be travelling. No fun getting sick on vacation!

HEPATITIS B is a very resistant virus that spreads very fast by contact with blood, semen, vaginal secretions, or saliva of a person infected. This means sexual contact or sharing needles with an infected person. Also spread from mother to baby during pregnancy. Signs and symptoms are similar to Hepatitis A. With extended rest, proper diet, and medical treatment, 90% recover, 9% carry the virus forever. Since many people have no symptoms until later in life after liver damage occurs, it is a good idea to be tested for Hep. B. There is a vaccine now given to school children and those at risk. Partners and people you live with should also be vaccinated.

HEPATITIS C is primarily a blood borne virus so it is spread by blood transfusions or sharing dirty needles, tattoos, piercing or acupuncture with dirty needles. There is no risk from hugging, kissing, and a very low risk of sexual transmission although there is a risk if you have unprotected sex with a female who is menstruating. Hepatitis C will not affect a baby during pregnancy nor during breast feeding. Signs and symptoms may not appear for years - they include fatigue, muscle & joint pain, fever, no appetite & weight loss, diarrhea, nausea, jaundice, dark urine and clay-coloured stools. There may be long-term liver damage, but it may take up to 30 years before cirrhosis of the liver becomes apparent. In severe cases of Hep. C, liver cancer can develop. Treatment is diet, exercise, reduce stress, don't smoke.

PREVENTION: Do not share needles; ask your doctor about vaccination, especially if you are travelling overseas. Practise SAFER SEX and if you develop any symptoms, see your doctor.

Hepatitis Information Network

Hepatitis Foundation International