Contributed by- Krushna Charan
About 500 million people throughout the world are infected by one of five viral hepatitis, which is categorized as hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. Hepatitis is a viral inflammatory disease caused by a virus that infects liver cells and causes inflammation. The inflammation can affect how your liver works and causes viral infection. Among all of these hepatitis virus infections, hepatitis D can’t be contracted on its own. It can only infect people who are already infected with hepatitis B. Here we are going to discuss the two-fold disease hepatitis D and its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.
What is hepatitis D?
Hepatitis D disease is caused by the hepatitis delta virus (HDV) and with the assistance of the hepatitis B virus, it can cause very severe forms of acute and chronic hepatitis in patients. Like hepatitis B, hepatitis D can be acute or chronic. If the acute infection continues for a long time, then it results in chronic hepatitis D.
How does hepatitis D spread?
The Hepatitis D virus spreads through infected blood, sharing of syringes, unprotected sex, and natal transmission during delivery, etc. If the person has already been infected with the hepatitis B virus, then they are at risk of developing hepatitis D.
The infection is known as coinfection when both the viruses are active at the same time. There is also a form of superinfection in hepatitis D when a person with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection can be exposed to Hepatitis D. HDV is a bloodborne virus like HBV and is transmitted in the same way.
What are the symptoms of hepatitis D?
Symptoms of hepatitis D are similar to hepatitis B, so it can be difficult to determine which disease is causing your symptoms. In some cases, hepatitis D can make the symptoms of hepatitis B worse. Symptoms of hepatitis D include:
- Yellow skin and eye
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Dark urine
- Clay-coloured stool
Who’s at risk of getting affected with hepatitis D?
People are at risk of getting hepatitis D if they have
- Had hepatitis B infection in the past
- not received the hepatitis B vaccine at the time of birth or later
- Had unprotected sex
- taken drugs or toxic supplements
How is hepatitis D diagnosed?
If you have any of those above-mentioned symptoms of hepatitis D, then you should immediately consult with your doctor. To diagnose hepatitis D, your doctor will perform a hepatitis test that can detect hepatitis D antibodies in your blood. If antibodies are found, it implies you’ve been infected with the virus. Although it is a liver affecting disease, your doctor may order a full-body health checkup or liver function test to know the condition of your liver.
Is there any vaccine available for hepatitis D?
No, there is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis D. If the hepatitis B vaccine is taken then it can provide protection against future infection of hepatitis D.
How is hepatitis D treated?
There is no specific treatment available for the prevention of acute or chronic hepatitis D. Available antiviral therapies can only slow the progress of the disease but it does not make the patient virus-free. For a chronic condition, treatment depends on the phase of the disease and how severe the condition is. Even after the treatment of hepatitis D, a person can still test positive.
How can hepatitis D be prevented?
We know that the only way to prevent hepatitis D is to prevent hepatitis B first. So, you should take these precautions to prevent hepatitis B.
- All children or newborn babies should be vaccinated for hepatitis B at the time of their birth. Adults who are at high risk for infection should also be vaccinated.
- The sharing of syringes and unprotected sex are the most important causes, and that should be avoided.
- Take precautions when you are going for tattooing or piercing. Always ask the tattoo artist to use a new needle.
These basic steps are the best way to reduce your risk of contracting the hepatitis D virus. However, if you are already noticing the above-mentioned symptoms or think that you were exposed to the virus, then it’s never too late to consult with a doctor and get a hepatitis D test done. You should also avoid heavy alcohol drinking and quit smoking for the betterment of your health.
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