Understanding Hepatitis

Understanding Hepatitis

Understanding Hepatitis

Understanding Hepatitis

Synopsis

In comprehensible terms, "Understanding Hepatitis" furnishes the reader with a better grasp of the disease as it debunks fearful myths and provides helpful particulars on how to avoid the risks for contracting viral hepatitis. Illustrations.

Excerpt

“Infectious hepatitis” has plagued humanity for millennia. The disease that we now call hepatitis A was recognized in antiquity; references to it can be found in the writings of Hippocrates (ca. 400 b.c.e.), in the Talmud, and in ancient Chinese medical texts. Outbreaks of jaundice were seen in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, especially in military campaigns where crowded and unsanitary conditions were common. In fact, the condition became known as

“campaign disease.” Epidemics of infectious hepatitis hit hard during Napoleon's Egyptian campaign, the Civil War, and the British drive in Mesopotamia in World War I. During World War II, more than 150,000 U.S. soldiers and over 5 million German army and civilian personnel were incapacitated by hepatitis. Outbreaks during the Korean and Vietnam conflicts felled thousands of U.S. troops. Epidemics in civilian populations on all continents have been and continue to be common.

The word “hepatitis” is made up of the prefix “hepat-, ” from the Greek, referring to anything pertaining to the liver, and the suffix “-itis, ” which means inflammation. Therefore, “hepatitis” means inflammation of the liver. There are many causes, including several viruses, a host of chemicals and drugs, bacteria, diseases of the immune system, inherited factors, and herbs. When people (including physicians) say “hepatitis, ” they are usually referring to the sort caused by viruses. That will be our major concern in this book, although many of the nonviral types will also be mentioned.

Viral hepatitis is common in developed nations such as the United States but even more so in other parts of the world. Men and women are equally susceptible to infection. The disease is seen more often in lower socioeconomic groups. Seven known viruses—named A, B, C, D, E, G, and TTV (transfusion transmitted virus)—primarily infect the liver, but only the . . .

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