June 21, 2022
“Hepatitis can be attributed to many causes that have inflammation as a common factor. Infections that can be viral, diseases that produce different toxins or even certain medications. Recently, in these times of pandemic, reports have been published in medical journals that show the presence in several countries of a new type of acute hepatitis in children, a condition that in its evolution could become severe and complicate the health of our children. It should be noted that this pathology is still under development and study,” says Dr. José Luis Gonzales, pediatric gastroenterologist at our clinic.
What is hepatitis?
Hepatitis is a condition in which there is inflammation of the liver, which results in clinical manifestations and high values of some blood tests. It can have varying degrees of complexity and behave like mild or severe hepatitis. Clinical examination and blood measurement of different values help to establish the degree of severity.
What are its symptoms?
The symptoms can be general (malaise, weakness, fever), digestive symptoms (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea) or liver symptoms (yellowing of the skin and eyes). Depending on the severity of the condition, there may be neurological symptoms that would indicate a greater compromise.
Is it contagious?
Viral hepatitis is contagious and is transmitted in a variety of ways. The use of contaminated injectables or blood transfusions without proper controls can be ways of spreading Hepatitis B and C. Hepatitis A and E can be spread through the digestive tract. This new type of acute hepatitis is apparently caused by an adenovirus that did not use to cause hepatitis and is now doing so due to some condition.
How is hepatitis treated?
Mild hepatitis can be managed at home with adequate rest and without medication. Complicated forms must be managed in hospital. The specialist will know how to identify the severity of the infection and give the appropriate recommendations.
How to protect our children against hepatitis?
Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B vaccines are usually given in childhood (2 doses for Hepatitis A and 3 doses for Hepatitis B). Always ask your pediatrician if you have any doubt.
Final recommendations of the specialist:
Infections that cause hepatitis through the digestive tract, as in the case of Hepatitis A, require preventive and protective measures such as care with our food, cleanliness of our hands and vaccinations at the appropriate times and doses. Infections that cause hepatitis through the blood, such as Hepatitis B, require great care with the use of injectables and blood transfusions. Let us remember that vaccines are a fundamental protection element.
Dr. José Luis Gonzales
Pediatric gastroenterologist at Clínica Ricardo Palma