Sunday, January 15, 2006


Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver usually from a viral infection but sometimes from toxic agents. There are two major forms of viral hepatitis, hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
Hepatitis A occurs mainly in children and young adults. When it occurs in elderly patients, especially women, it is a more severe and prolonged form. Common features include anorexia (loss of appetite), nausea, weight loss, mental changes, and abdominal discomfort. Jaundice may last for six weeks, and a fatal outcome is possible. Hepatitis B has a more insidious onset and a higher mortality rate since it tends to affect older patients who are in poorer health. With outbreaks of hepatitis B in nursing homes, it is important to remember that decubitis ulcers and materials contaminated with blood are infectious.
Treatment consists of adequate nutrition, relief of symptoms, and avoidance of further liver damage by the use of the appropriate drugs.
Brocklehurst, J. C. Textbook of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology. 3rd ed. New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1985.
Calkins E., et al. The Practice of Geriatrics. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders, 1986.


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