Tuesday, April 17, 2018 by Zoey Sky
Hepatitis E is a waterborne disease that is spread via the hepatitis E virus (HEV).
This viral infection causes liver inflammation and damage. Inflammation refers to swelling that happens when tissues are injured or infected. Inflammation may damage the organs.
HEV, like other viruses, invade normal cells in the body. There are different types of HEV and they spread in different ways:
- Some types of HEV spread when people drink contaminated water. These types are more common in developing countries like parts of Africa, Asia, Central America, and the Middle East.
- Other types spread when people consume undercooked pork or wild game (e.g. deer). These types are more common in developed countries like Australia, parts of Europe and East Asia, Japan, and the U.S.
Hepatitis E causes either acute (short-term) or chronic infection:
- Acute hepatitis E – Most patients get can fight off the infection, even without treatment, after several weeks.
- Chronic hepatitis E – This is a long-lasting infection that happens when individuals can’t fight off the virus. Chronic hepatitis E is rare, and it only infects patients with weakened immune systems such as those who take medicines that weaken their immune system after an organ transplant, or those who have AIDS or HIV.
Known symptoms of hepatitis E
The majority of patients with hepatitis E do not experience any side effects, but some individuals may have symptoms at least 15 to 60 days after they are infected with the virus.
The signs and symptoms of hepatitis E may include:
- Dark-colored urine
- Jaundice (a yellowish tint in the whites of the eyes and skin)
- Light-colored stool
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain in the upper part of the abdomen
- Poor appetite
Body systems harmed by hepatitis E
Hepatitis E may cause the following complications:
- Acute hepatitis E complications – Most people recover from acute hepatitis E without severe complications. However, some patients with acute hepatitis E may experience acute liver failure. Acute liver failure caused by hepatitis E often occurs among pregnant women and people with other liver diseases. Pregnant women may also experience other complications due to hepatitis E that may affect both mothers and infants like low birth weight, premature birth, or stillbirth.
- Chronic hepatitis E complications – Chronic hepatitis E can cause complications like cirrhosis (scarring).
Food items or nutrients that may prevent hepatitis E
The following foods or nutrients can help prevent hepatitis E:
- Fruits and vegetables – Fresh and seasonal fruits and vegetables are full of essential nutrients and are easy to digest. They also have antioxidants that can protect the liver cells from damage. Do take note that you need to minimize your intake of starchy vegetables (e.g. potatoes) when on a hepatitis E recovery diet.
- Healthy fats – Sources include canola oil, flaxseed oil, and olive oil.
- Healthy proteins – Foods with healthy proteins include beans, dairy products, eggs, lean meats, and soy products that can help your liver recover.
- Whole grains – Sources include bran, brown rice, cereal or whole wheat bread, porridge, or whole grain pasta. Other whole grains that you can eat include organic corn, oatmeal, rye, whole oats, and wild rice.
Treatments, management plans for hepatitis E
Since a hepatitis E infection is often acute and most patients recover on their own, there are no specific treatments for the disease. Patients with this type of infection are often advised to avoid alcohol, get enough nutrients, rest, and stay hydrated.
On the other hand, pregnant women infected with hepatitis E require close monitoring and care.
Where to learn more
Hepatitis E is a waterborne disease spread via the hepatitis E virus (HEV). This viral infection causes liver inflammation and damage.
Symptoms may include dark-colored urine, fatigue, and jaundice.
Hepatitis E may cause complications like liver failure and cirrhosis.