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July is Hepatitis Awareness Month

Hepatitis in Children

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. It can damage and destroy liver cells. Hepatitis in children can be caused by many things. Your child can get hepatitis by being exposed to a virus that causes it. 

These viruses can include:

  • Hepatitis viruses. There are 5 main types of the hepatitis virus: A, B, C, D and E.
  • Cytomegalovirus. This virus is a part of the herpes virus family.
  • Epstein-Barr virus. The virus causes mononucleosis.
  • Herpes simplex virus. Herpes can affect the face, the skin above the waist or the genitals.
  • Varicella zoster virus (chickenpox). A complication of this virus is hepatitis. But this happens very rarely in children.
  • Enteroviruses. This is a group of viruses often seen in children. They include coxsackie viruses and echoviruses.
  • Rubella. This is a mild disease that causes a rash.
  • Adenovirus. This is a group of viruses that causes colds, tonsillitis and ear infections in children. They can also cause diarrhea.
  • Parvovirus. This virus causes fifth disease. Symptoms include a slapped-cheek rash on the face.

Conditions can also cause hepatitis in children. These can include autoimmune liver disease. For this disease, your child’s immune system makes antibodies that attack the liver. This causes inflammation that leads to hepatitis.

Symptoms can happen a bit differently in each child. Some children don’t have any symptoms.

Symptoms of sudden (acute) hepatitis may include:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes (jaundice)
  • Fever
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Not feeling well
  • Stomach pain or discomfort
  • Diarrhea
  • Joint pain
  • Sore muscles
  • Itchy red hives on the skin
  • Clay-colored stools
  • Dark-colored urine

The symptoms of this condition may look like symptoms of other health problems. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis. Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

Work with your child’s healthcare provider to create a care plan for your child. If your child has chronic hepatitis, he or she will need to get plenty of rest, eat a healthy diet and take medicines as prescribed.

To access the full article on hepatitis and children, click here.