The most common type of hepatitis in children is hepatitis A, or infectious hepatitis. This type of hepatitis is contracted though contact with carrier. Specifically, the hepatitis A virus lives in the faeces of an infected person and is easily spread through surface contact and food contamination.
Hepatitis A is mild and many times goes undetected. The virus can last up to six months but is usually short term and causes no lasting damage to the liver.
Hepatitis B is a result of the hepatitis B virus which is spread through infected body fluids like blood and saliva. Hepatitis B can cause more severe symptoms and can lead to chronic liver diseases.
Hepatitis C is a more serious form of Hepatitis B and causes such liver damage that the patient usually requires a liver transplant. As with type B, hepatitis C is contracted through contact with body fluids of an infected person.
Signs and Symptoms
Early stages will show general flu-like symptoms such as fever, aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrheal, and jaundice.
Once the liver is affected by the disease, the chemicals produced begin to collect in the blood causing severe jaundice, abdominal pain, bad breath, a sour or bitter taste in the mouth, dark urine, and white coloured or greyish/white stools.
Treatment of hepatitis A is non-existent. The virus short term, mild and will go away without treatment. There are no long term affects.
For hepatitis B, treatment usually involves medication and possibly hospitalization. There are no long term affects in most cases.
Hepatitis C however, most often requires hospitalization and strong drug therapy.
The only protection from hepatitis in children is vaccination. A Hepatitis B vaccine is normally given at birth.
If your child or anyone in the family has been exposed to a person with hepatitis, contact your doctor immediately.