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Foods For Treating Viral Hepatitis

April 18, 2011

Viral hepatitis is characterized by inflammation of the liver. The condition is caused by a virus. Two main types of hepatitis have been recognized, namely hepatitis A and hepatitis B. However, new strains of viruses have now been discovered. These include hepatitis C, hepatitis E and hepatitis D.

Other viruses such as the Epstein - Barr virus, yellow fever and cytomegalovirus can also cause infection of the liver and lead to symptoms similar to those of hepatitis.

The transmission of viral hepatitis depends upon the type of virus. Hepatitis A and hepatitis E spreads through intake of contaminated food and water.

The contamination occurs when infected feces are contained in the drinking water and food. Hepatitis B, D and C are transmitted through contact with infected bodily fluids such as blood and semen. The symptoms of viral hepatitis vary from cases to case.

Some individuals may not experience any symptoms, while some may only feel mild illness for some time. The initial symptoms that occur include weakness, muscle aches, tiredness, headaches, nausea, vomiting, appetite loss and pain in the right area of the upper abdomen. These symptoms persist for 3 to 10 days.

Then jaundice or yellowing of the skin, eyes, urine and stools occurs. This can last up to 6 weeks and during this time the individual may begin to feel better. In some cases, pain in the joints may also occur and those who experience severe jaundice may also undergo itching on the skin.

Diet plays an important role in the treatment of viral hepatitis. The main aim of diet therapy is to supply the body with adequate nutrition, to alleviate the symptoms, to help the liver tissue to regenerate and to prevent further damage to the liver. In the early stages of the illness, the individual may be unable to eat properly and hence the energy intake should be increased gradually. The regeneration of liver tissues requires an adequate intake of protein. Too much protein may, however, not be tolerated and hence the proportions need to be altered on the basis of how much liver damage has occurred. A diet high in carbohydrates is necessary in order to provide adequate calories. This will prevent the breakdown of tissue proteins for the purpose of energy. The digestion of fats is hampered during hepatitis and hence fat intake must be reduced. The diet should also supply enough minerals, especially iron and calcium. Vitamins A, B, C and K must be obtained partly from the diet and partly through supplements.

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