Hepatitis E is a hepatitis infection caused by a virus. Transmission of this virus occurs through consumption of contaminated food and drink. The hepatitis E virus that enters the digestive tract can cause inflammation and damage to the liver or liver.
Hepatitis E also rarely develops into a prolonged (chronic) disease. People infected with hepatitis E will generally recover within a few months. However, hepatitis E can become a serious liver disease in pregnant women, the elderly, and people with weak immune systems.
Causes of Hepatitis E
Hepatitis E is caused by the hepatitis E virus (HEV). This virus is found all over the world, especially in developing countries which have limited availability of clean water, and poor environmental and sanitation conditions. HEV is spread through consumption of drinking water and food contaminated with feces of sufferers of this disease.
Meanwhile in developed countries where clean water is available, transmission of this virus usually occurs from animals to humans, for example as a result of consuming animal meat infected with HEV and not cooked properly. Examples of animal meat in question are pork , wild boar, wild deer, or clams.
In rare cases, the hepatitis E virus can be transmitted through blood transfusions. Pregnant women who suffer from this disease are also at risk of spreading HEV to the fetus they contain.
Symptoms of Hepatitis E
After the hepatitis E virus enters the body, the virus will remain in the body without causing symptoms for 2-10 weeks. This period is known as the incubation period. After that, symptoms will begin to appear within a few days to a few weeks later.
In some cases, not everyone who gets hepatitis E shows symptoms of infection. However, in some sufferers, hepatitis E can cause several symptoms, such as:
- Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes ( jaundice )
- Dark urine
- Pale stools
- Mild fever
- Skin rash
- Muscle ache
- Nausea and vomiting
- Decreased appetite
- Upper abdominal pain
- Heart swells k
- The body feels very tired
Based on the length of time the symptoms appear, hepatitis E is divided into two types, including:
Acute hepatitis E
Acute hepatitis E infection only occurs in the short term. In most cases, a person's immune system can fight hepatitis E infection well so that sufferers can recover within a few weeks.
Chronic hepatitis E
Unlike the acute type, chronic hepatitis E occurs in the long term. This condition only occurs when the body's immune system is weakened so that it is unable to fight viruses, such as in people with HIV/AIDS and people who have received organ transplants.
When to see a doctor
Check with your doctor if you experience symptoms of hepatitis as previously mentioned. Early treatment needs to be done so that the symptoms do not get worse while preventing complications.
Examination to the doctor is also needed if symptoms of hepatitis appear in pregnant women, the elderly, people with other liver diseases, and people with weak immune systems. This group is at high risk of developing severe complications due to hepatitis E infection.
Diagnosis Hepatitis E
To diagnose hepatitis E, the doctor will ask the patient about the patient's symptoms, medical history, and travel history. Next, the doctor will carry out further tests to confirm the diagnosis, such as:
- Blood test, to detect antibodies to the hepatitis E virus in the blood
- Liver function tests , to measure levels of liver enzymes that determine the severity of liver damage
- Stool examination , to detect hepatitis E virus in feces
Treatment of Hepatitis E
Hepatitis E sufferers generally recover by themselves in 4-6 weeks. Even so, sufferers are advised to make the following efforts to help relieve the symptoms that appear:
- Get enough rest and sleep
- Eat healthy and nutritious food
- Meet the need for fluids with lots of drinking
- Avoid consuming alcoholic beverages
- Consult a doctor first before using certain drugs, such as paracetamol
For patients with chronic hepatitis E with weak immune systems, doctors will prescribe antiviral drugs such as ribavirin . Meanwhile, for pregnant women who experience symptoms of hepatitis E, doctors will recommend hospitalization so they can continue to monitor the progress of the disease.
Hepatitis E complications
If not treated immediately, hepatitis E has the risk of causing several complications, such as:
- Liver failure
- Nervous disorder
- Kidney disorders
- Blood clotting disorders
- Acute pancreatitis
In pregnant women, hepatitis E can cause serious complications , such as acute liver failure or fulminant hepatitis , as well as maternal and fetal death. The risk of complications will increase as pregnancy enters the second and third trimesters.
In addition, around 10-30% of pregnant women in the third trimester are also more at risk of dying from hepatitis E.
Prevention of Hepatitis E
Until now, there is no vaccine available that can prevent hepatitis E. However, there are preventive measures that can be taken to reduce the chances of contracting the hepatitis E virus, namely:
- Do not drink water or consume ice cubes that are not guaranteed to be clean.
- Do not eat pork, wild boar, wild deer or shellfish that are not thoroughly cooked.
- Wash hands regularly with soap and running water after using the toilet, changing baby's diapers, before cooking, and before and after eating.
- Maintain personal hygiene and sanitation , home environment, and surroundings.