Learn About Hepatitis E

View Main Condition: Hepatitis

What is the definition of Hepatitis E?
Hepatitis E is a viral infection of liver that causes inflammation and can damage organs. The disease usually causes acute, short-term infection but can become chronic in people with weakened immune systems, in which case the disease can cause cirrhosis, liver failure, or even death. Hepatitis E is spread by the fecal-oral route, mainly by drinking contaminated water. Other causes are eating undercooked meat from infected animals, such as pork or deer, transfusion with infected blood products, and transmission from a pregnant mother to her baby.
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What are the symptoms of Hepatitis E?
Symptoms of hepatitis E usually last for 1-6 weeks and include fever, jaundice (yellowing of whites of eyes and skin), reduced appetite, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, rash, itching, joint pain, dark urine and pale stools, and an enlarged, tender liver.
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What are the current treatments for Hepatitis E?
While there is currently no cure for hepatitis E, most people get better without treatment within a few weeks; however, they should remain under the care of a doctor until fully recovered. Treatment for acute hepatitis E includes rest, drinking lots of fluids, and eating healthy foods.  Hospitalization is usually not required, with the exception of pregnant women and infected persons who have developed the severe complication known as fulminant hepatitis. Persons infected with hepatitis E must avoid taking medications that contain acetaminophen/paracetamol and drugs given for nausea and vomiting to prevent further liver damage. Do not drink alcohol until fully recovered. Immunosuppressed persons with chronic hepatitis E may be treated with the antiviral drug, ribavirin, or interferon. While a vaccine has been made for prevention of hepatitis E, it is currently only available in China.
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