Nurses and Doctors Live with a Fear of Contacting Hepatitis Every Day
I believe I have had a unique experience with hepatitis. Actually, I had a hidden fear everyday of letting my guard down as a nurse for 40 plus years, getting careless someday and contracting hepatitis from a patient that either knew or did not know they had hepatitis.
Infection Control Is Essential
The good thing is that the experience of my daily fear of hepatitis was so bad that I was extra careful in my daily duties and contacts with patients. I never tried to rush in my duties thus becoming careless in my actions.
Be Informed of Hepatitis and Where It Comes From
For those who are not aware of what hepatitis A, B, C, D and E is, it is a viral infection affecting the liver. He or she is at high risk for contracting hepatitis if they use recreational drugs, prescription medications, comes in contact with hepatitis infected blood, new mothers pass this on to their new born babies, and contaminated food and water
The signs and symptoms of hepatitis do not always follow the same route with people. Symptoms can vary, but most times hepatitis resembles the flu symptoms such as fatigue, low-grade fever, no appetite, nausea and or vomiting, abdominal pain, and muscle and joint aches and pains. These are the most common symptoms.
Other people may or may not have these symptoms and additionally experience internal bleeding, stools are light in color, urine is dark in color, jaundice may be present or the skin and whites of the eyes may take on a yellow hew.
Additional people may experience generalized itching of the skin, be in a stupor, have confusion or even go into a coma. Some people have no symptoms at all. Only a blood test can determine if someone has hepatitis.
Many people have hepatitis and are not aware of having the disease, thus can pass on the disease unbeknown to them.
Hepatitis Destroys the Liver–Cannot Live Without a Healthy Liver
When a person has hepatitis, it affects the liver. He or she cannot live without a liver. The liver helps in the digestion of foods and everything that he or she eats or drinks including medicines passes through the liver.
Unsure If Hepatitis is in Your Future, Get Tested
If he or she suspects they have hepatitis, they need to see their doctor as soon as possible with the start of treatment if blood work tests positive for hepatitis. If he or she has, hepatitis and they do not seek medical help the disease becomes chronic hepatitis leading to cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer and possible death.
Be Careful! This Locks in Good Health
There are many ways to contact hepatitis. If a nurse should prick his or her hand or finger with a patient’s needle, they put themselves at risk for hepatitis.
Nurses are required to wear gloves when doing any patient care, especially when giving injections or starting intravenous needles. However, needles to poke through latex gloves. Once he or she has contacted hepatitis, they must live with the diagnosis.
Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E
Hepatitis A symptoms arise when one drinks contaminated water or food. If the doctor confirms hepatitis, there is a vaccine available.
While nursing I was informed about hepatitis B and always had this on my mind, terrified that I one day may contact the disease through an affected patient’s blood. If he or she contacts someone’s blood affected by the virus he or she can contact this virus. When a mother has hepatitis and passes it on to their newborn baby. There is a vaccine for hepatitis B.
Hepatitis C was a bigger worry for me as a nurse. Hepatitis C is passes on to another through needle pricks by an infected needle or blood from a hepatitis patient. There is no vaccination for this virus.
Someone who is already a hepatitis B carrier passes on Hepatitis D. People contact hepatitis D through infected blood, needles and having sex with someone infected with the virus. A new mother infected with hepatitis D can pass the virus on to their newborn baby, and there is an available vaccine for hepatitis D.
People can contact hepatitis E by drinking contaminated water and there is no vaccine for Hepatitis E.
A Real Fear for the Medical Professional
A nurse lives with the fear every day of contacting any form of hepatitis. If contact of hepatitis happens, it is due to the neglect of strict safety precautions and infection control procedures. He or she can lose focus on a strict vigil of what he or she is doing within their nursing duties, coming into unsafe contact with infected blood and needles.
What I learned in my nursing career is that no nurse can be too careful when caring for patients.