Hepatitis: What you need to know

There are still more than 400 million people around the world infected with hepatitis B or C. Only about 1 in 20 people with viral hepatitis know they are infected and only 1 in 100 cases are treated. This year’s World Hepatitis Day has been given the theme “Know Hepatitis–Act Now” and everyone is encouraged to learn about the disease, get tested and vaccinated and, if necessary, seek treatment early.

What is hepatitis?

Hepatitis describes an inflammation of the liver that can be the result of:

a) a viral infection, like in cases of hep A, B, C, D, and E
b) liver damage caused by excess alcohol intake (alcoholic hepatitis)
c) liver damage caused by the body’s immune system attacking the organ (autoimmune hepatitis).

The disease can be short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic) which, if untreated, causes liver scarring (cirrhosis) or even liver cancer.

How is hepatitis transmitted and how do I keep safe?

Hepatitis A and E are transmitted through contaminated food and water, so be aware of what you ingest in areas where the virus is common. Washing your hands often with warm, soapy water, especially after using the toilet and before eating, can also help.

Hepatitis B, C and D are transmitted through blood or sexual contact. Unprotected sex and needle sharing can increase the risk of hep B, C and D infection.

Vaccines are available for types A and B, and are highly encouraged, especially if you are in contact with blood or if you are travelling to countries where the disease is prevalent. Hepatitis D is only contractible if you are already infected with hepatitis B, so vaccinating against type B protects from D, too.

You can minimize the risk of developing alcoholic hepatitis by reducing the amount of alcohol you consume. Decreasing the amount you drink to less than 14 units of alcohol per week can help your liver slowly recover, even if you have drunk excessively in the past.

Autoimmune hepatitis is quite rare and still under-researched, but treatment involves medication that suppresses the immune system and reduces inflammation.

What are the signs that I may need to see my GP?

See your GP if you experience the following symptoms for an extended period of time:

  • Muscle and joint pain
  • A fever of at least 38C
  • Feeling and being sick
  • Feeling unusually tired
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tummy pain
  • Dark urine
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Pale, gray-coloured stool
  • Itchy Skin
  • Yellow eyes and skin (jaundice)

Because both acute and chronic hepatitis may be present without any symptoms, the disease must be picked up through blood tests. Adults over 40-years-old and those who often come in contact with blood or infected water/food can benefit from yearly check-ups during which you can be tested for a variety of conditions and diseases.

If you’d like to find out more about hepatitis and liver health, check out the British Liver Trust.
Find out more about the routine and travel vaccinations that GPDQ can provide in the comfort of your home, office or hotel.

GPDQ is the UK’s first on-demand app for private GP visits.

See a trusted, local doctor at your home, office or hotel within an average of 90 minutes in London. Available 8am – 11pm every day. Find out more

Prep for Paradise:
Your Healthy
Holiday Guide

Summer is officially in full-swing and we’re all looking forward to the holidays! Whether you’re hiking in the Himalayas or soaking up the sun in Spain, GPDQ has some travel tips that will make sure this summer is the best one yet.

Preparing for Holiday Heaven

1. Vaccines

About 4-6 weeks before departure, check the jabs you need, where you can get them and the cost, so no one misses out on the best nasi goreng Bankok has to offer. Take a copy of your immunization record on your trip.

2. Travel Insurance

Know what type of healthcare system your destination country has and look for different travel insurances packages. Remember the financial benefits and peace of mind! Don’t forget to bring your insurance ID card with you and know the local emergency numbers at your destination.

3. Medication

If you are on any medication, make sure you have enough supply for the entire trip. Keep your medication in your carry-on and bring documentation of any chronic illness or recent major surgery.

4. Sun Protection

Regardless of how “healthy” a fresh tan looks, neglecting the sun cream isn’t healthy at all. Sun cream, hats and sunglasses are important for the whole family to pack.

5. Easy on the Alcohol

Drinking will further dehydrate you on a long flight and, though you may seemingly get to sleep, the quality of the rest will be poor.

While in Paradise

1. Skin Care

In the event that you do get burned, cool your skin with cold water or compresses, drink plenty of fluids, and apply water-based emollient, petroleum jelly or aloe vera to the area to retain moisture.

2. Water

Dehydration can cause fatigue, foggy memory, irritability and anxiety. Make sure you are hydrated with clean, potable water. When potable water is unavailable, use bottled water. You can also drink tap water vigorously boiled or purified with iodine tincture solution.

3. Get Moving!

Whether it be a long walk on the beach, a snorkelling session or a renting bikes on the boardwalk, even 30 minutes per day can keep you healthy and happy throughout your trip.

4. Fresh Fruits and Veggies

Travelling can dehydrate and throw you off balance. Stay on track with your daily servings of 5 fruits and veggies to keep your intestines regular, your levels of antioxidants and vitamins high and your system hydrated. They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but in some places raw fruits and veggies may be unsafe to eat unless you peel them.

5. Wash Your Hands

Travelling in close quarters and being in a new place with new germs can leave your body more susceptible to falling ill. 60% of airplane food trays carry yucky bacteria called MRSA, so wash your hands with warm water and antibacterial soap to keep yourself in tip-top shape.

6. Road Safety

Motor vehicle-related incidents are the most common cause of traveller injury and death. If you are driving, leave plenty of time in the event that you get lost on unfamiliar roads and so that you do not speed. If you are moving around with public transport, be hyper-aware of your surroundings while using your common sense and intuition.

GPDQ is the UK’s first on-demand app for private GP visits.

See a trusted, local doctor at your home, office or hotel within an average of 90 minutes in London. Available 8am – 11pm every day. Find out more