Living with Hepatitis

Introduction

Getting diagnosed with hepatitis is no reason to panic. As long as the illness has not progressed, you can lead a normal life. But it is important that you know as much as possible about the disease. Get advice on treatment possibilities and on how you can protect your environment against contagion. After your doctor has given you all the relevant information on your options, it is your decision to start treatment or not.

What you need to know

  • Regular check-ups are important. Early treatment can prevent most hepatitis-related complications.
  • Get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B. An additional infection of these two viruses can harm your liver further.
  • Hepatitis often progresses whilst producing no or only mild flu symptoms, headaches or nausea. And yet your liver may still show damage.
  • Because the liver is slightly enlarged, you could also experience pain on the right side underneath your ribcage. Eyes and skin could turn yellow and your urine a dark colour.
  • Diet: You may eat everything, but drinking alcohol should be reduced to a minimum.
  • Physical activities: There are practically no restrictions, neither for work nor sport.
  • Fatigue is a common symptom of chronic hepatitis.
  • You can travel, kiss and have sex, as long as you adhere to a few rules.
  • Getting pregnant is possible, but a few precautions need to be taken.

Symptoms

An acute hepatitis infection often passes unnoticed. Sometimes the following complaints are noted: It feels like the start of the flu, you may feel tired, have a headache and a temperature. Feeling nauseous is also a common symptom. Constipation, diarrhoea or flatulence can follow. Sometimes the eyes and the skin turn a yellow colour. The symptoms usually go away after a few weeks. Hepatitis B and C infections can become chronic. Fatigue is a common symptom of a chronic hepatitis. Other complaints are rare, even in patients with advanced liver disease.

Everyday Life

There are only very few restrictions in everyday life. Everything can be eaten, but alcohol should be avoided as much as possible. There are no impediments at work, in leisure activities or when travelling. Physical activities and sport are recommended. You can kiss and have sex as long as you keep some rules in mind, which you should discuss with your doctor. Hepatitis A patients must be aware that their excrements are contagious and, to protect the people around them, adhere to strict hygiene measures on the toilet and always carefully wash their hands. Sexual partners and family members of hepatitis B patients should be vaccinated. Pregnancy is possible, but you should discuss the necessary precautions with your doctor.