Hepatitis - unrecognized liver disease

Our liver is a poor swallower. As a detoxifying organ, it is the garbage dump in our body and ensures a lot of discomfort from greasy food and alcohol. However, if you get so-called hepatitis virus in the way and begin to parasite in her, the liver stumbles.

Many liver diseases go undetected

The World Health Organization assumes that there are 3.5 million liver patients in Germany. However, the dark figure is significantly higher. Estimates assume 7.5 million. Frightening: Only a fraction of those affected are diagnosed. The main reasons are that it is often more unspecific symptoms that may indicate liver disease.

Symptoms of hepatitis nonspecific

Neither affected nor many general practitioners think in terms of fatigue, lack of concentration, nausea or pressure in the upper abdomen on the possibility of liver disease. If the above symptoms persist for a longer time and if, for example, frequent muscle and joint pains, clay-colored stools and beer-brown urine, loss of appetite, distended abdomen, yellowish-colored skin or eyes are added, a doctor (if possible a hepatologist) should be consulted.

This should undergo a detailed examination of the liver. If the liver values ​​are elevated, it is important to closely scrutinize the liver.

Hepatitis viruses love diversity. They come in different shapes, why physicians keep them apart by the letters A to E. All hepatitis viruses have the ominous property of using the liver metabolism of humans to multiply themselves. This does not leave its mark on the liver. The severity of the disease depends on which virus family has spread in the organ. Especially viruses A, B, C and D are important.

Hepatitis A

The travel-related disease that is most commonly imported to Germany is hepatitis A. The Robert Koch Institute registers approximately 4, 000 cases each year. Therefore, the simple rule: Whoever approaches the sun, needs a hepatitis A vaccine protection. This not only applies to tropical and subtropical countries, but also to Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean countries. And the vaccine should also be independent of whether you are planning a backpacking vacation or indulge in an expensive hotel with a high standard of hygiene.

Common sources of infection for hepatitis A

That it can come to infections in supposedly good hotels, is because mostly locals are part of the staff. A so-called fecal-oral infection due to poor hygiene has happened quickly. In addition, contaminated food or virus-contaminated drinking water can be found in the best hotels.

Especially milk, water, salads or fruit are common sources of infection. Even caviar or shellfish should be avoided when on holiday. Caviar concentrates the virus by a factor of 1000 to the environment, and shellfish form veritable hepatitis A cocktails. They grow particularly well in fecalised waters.

Hepatitis A: signs and consequences

Hepatitis A puts them out of action for three to four weeks - fatigue, nausea, diarrhea and gastrointestinal distress sometimes force them to stay in bed - but in most cases, the course is benign, and the liver emerges unscathed,

However, in a few cases, especially among travelers over the age of 60, hepatitis A can be fatal. This saves you who can vaccinate against the A-virus around two weeks before the holiday. As a travel vaccination, she must be paid out of pocket.

Hepatitis B

Often the mostly harmless running hepatitis A with the dangerous hepatitis B in a pot is thrown. However, hepatitis B viruses are many times more dangerous. They leave a permanent liver damage in up to 10 percent of infected adults and in up to 90 percent of children.

The liver is overloaded by permanent inflammation, and it comes to massive cell death. The diseased liver is scarring and shrinking. The end stage is called liver cirrhosis. At worst, the viruses of the liver so much that develop a liver cancer. Because treatment with medications does not even strike at every second, every year in Germany about 2, 000 people die as a result of hepatitis B - twice as many as in AIDS.

Transmission of hepatitis B

Many people are aware that hepatitis B viruses are transmitted to the partner during sexual intercourse through seminal fluid or vaginal secretions. But that also other body fluids such as blood, wound secretions, saliva and tears the hepatitis B virus pave the way to his new victim, know the least.

There are many opportunities for this, whether it's camping, doing sports or having a barbecue in the garden. Quickly you have a grave wound or cut in the finger, and supplying the mishap, the virus can be transmitted with the blood. Suffice it for a harmless injury, because it is enough a millionth of a milliliter of blood to get infected. Thus, hepatitis B is 100 times more infectious than AIDS.

Symptoms of hepatitis B are often ambiguous

In Germany, 50, 000 mostly young people are infected each year with the hepatitis B virus. Only one in three noticed disease symp- toms. Thus, the virus is first with a number of nonspecific symptoms such as loss of appetite, malaise, fatigue, joint problems to the liver inflammation with jaundice noticeable. Even if two-thirds of the infected do not feel any symptoms, the disease is progressing inexorably. The virus continues to multiply unnoticed, and many contact persons can become infected.

Prevention through hygiene and vaccination

Those who want to avoid this, rely on prevention: And that consists of disposable gloves for first aid and from a vaccine against hepatitis B.

The vaccine offers the best protection against the disease. The Standing Vaccination Commission at the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin recommends that all children and adolescents up to the age of 18 be vaccinated against hepatitis B in general. The costs are borne by the health insurance companies. Adults have to pay the cost of a hepatitis vaccine out of their own pocket.

"Actually, the hepatitis B vaccine could be the first cancer vaccine, " Dr. Karl Alfred Nassauer, from the Robert Koch Institute. If you like, you can also have a vaccine against the virus siblings A and B vaccinated. Good to know: The hepatitis D virus can not multiply on its own, it always needs the help of the B virus. So who is vaccinated against hepatitis B, is therefore also immune to hepatitis-D. A solo vaccine only against the D variant among the liver viruses does not exist.

Hepatitis C

Despite all therapeutic advances, the hepatitis C virus keeps medical professionals busy. Experts assume that there are around 600, 000 hepatitis C carriers in Germany. The dark figure is probably a lot higher. The virus that is transmitted via the bloodstream is the main reason for liver transplants. This makes the aggressiveness of the C virus clear: it affects the liver in 80 percent of the cases for a lifetime. The fatal consequences here are also cirrhosis of the liver and end-stage cancer.

These facts are all the more frightening because there is no vaccine against the C virus. There is almost no prevention possible. As for the therapy, the doctors have better chances to get the C virus under control than the B virus. "An acute C infection today is eradicated to 98 percent with the drugs interferon-alfa and ribavirin, " said Professor. Claus Niederau, CEO of Deutsche Leberhilfe, clearly. If the liver inflammation already exists longer, then one treats with the same medicines, has however only a success rate of approximately 50 per cent.

Problematic: "Of the people diagnosed only about 5 to 10 percent receive adequate treatment according to the current state of knowledge." In untreated patients, liver damage progresses incessantly and ends with cirrhosis and / or cancer.

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