Hepatitis D

What is Hepatitis D?

Hepatitis D, also known as hepatitis delta, is a contagious liver disease caused by the hepatitis D virus (HDV). This virus can only infect someone who is already infected with the hepatitis B virus, so it is called a “co-infection” of the two viruses. It is transmitted through contact with infected blood and/or body fluids. It can also be passed from mother to baby during childbirth.

Hepatitis D can cause serious health complications, including liver damage, cirrhosis, and even liver cancer. It can also lead to chronic infection, which can lead to death. There is currently no cure for hepatitis D, but it can be prevented with vaccination.

Symptoms of Hepatitis D

The main symptom of hepatitis D is a yellowing of the skin and eyes, also known as jaundice. Other common symptoms include fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, dark urine, and pale or clay-colored stools.

If the infection becomes chronic, people may also experience itching, joint pain, and swelling in the legs, ankles, and/or feet.

Treating Hepatitis D

The treatment for hepatitis D depends on the severity of the infection. People with mild infections may not need treatment and can usually recover without intervention. However, those with severe infections may need antiviral medications to help control the infection. These medications can help reduce the amount of virus in the body and improve liver function.

In some cases, liver transplantation may be necessary to prevent the progression of liver damage. People with chronic hepatitis D should also be monitored closely for signs of liver cancer and undergo regular blood tests to check for any changes in liver function.

Preventing Hepatitis D

The best way to prevent hepatitis D is to get the hepatitis B vaccine. This vaccine provides protection against both viruses and can be safely administered at any age. In addition, practicing good hygiene and avoiding contact with other people’s blood or body fluids can help reduce the risk of infection.

People with hepatitis D should also take special care to avoid behaviors that can spread the virus, such as sharing needles, having unprotected sex, or sharing personal items such as toothbrushes or razors.