What are the risk factors of hepatitis? Who is more vulnerable to developing hepatitis?
People are at risk of catching viral hepatic infection with different degrees. False habits and current immunity condition affect mainly the probability of getting hepatitis. We have summarized the most vulnerable groups into:
1) Unprotected sex with an infected partner is considered the main reason for catching HBV and HCV. Neglecting protective sexual methods not only affects the couple but also puts the fetus in danger of HBV infection and anomalies. Bisexual and gays practicing sex with men are more susceptible to get hepatitis A, B, and C.
2) Drug addicts especially those injecting drugs intravenously. Reusing syringes puts them at great risk of getting infected with HBV and HCV. Despite the massive awareness campaigns about blood-borne infections and their high morbidity rates, some regions in the world have a rising rate of viral hepatic infection.
3) Patients with chronic debilitating diseases such as uncontrolled diabetes and malignancies are at higher risk to get hepatitis because of their reduced immunity and natural defense mechanisms. A weakened immune system increases the probability to catch infections such as viral hepatitis. Liver cirrhosis reduces the liver capability of detoxification and metabolism therefore mild hepatitis may have a greater impact on whatever is left functioning of it.
4) An unhealthy diet and fast food are believed to contribute to more than 80% of viral A hepatitis infections. HAV is considered mainly a foodborne infection that is mainly transmitted through contaminated meals, unwashed fruits, and vegetables. HAV infections occur in the form of outbreaks as they affect mostly a group of people who ate from the same source.
5) The underlying condition of the liver is usually the main concern of physicians to assess the prognosis as patients with liver cirrhosis or suffering from chronic liver disease are more susceptible to get complications. Liver functions affect almost all body systems so its deterioration will definitely expose the patient to infections and other systemic diseases.
6) A sedentary lifestyle and bad nutrition are indirect risk factors for any kind of infection particularly hepatitis. Physical activity contributes to preventing and managing cardiovascular malfunctions, diabetes mellitus, and other non-communicable diseases. WHO recommends exercising for 150 minutes per week (divided among days) ranging from mild to moderate intensity. Not to mention that a well-balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals boosts immunity and enforces the defense mechanisms against pathogens.
7) Alcohol intake is one of the major causes of hepatitis and liver failure worldwide. Most alcoholics have a fatty liver which is usually the stage preceding hepatitis so physicians always ask alcohol addicts to cut off any kind of alcohol before liver damage becomes irreversible. WHO stated that people shouldn’t drink more than 16 units of alcohol a week.