unsterilized syringe or "dirty" needle. The incubation period for hepatitis ranges from six
weeks to six months. The type of hepatitis a patient has can be identified in some
patients. There can be a wide variety of clinical symptoms and signs of hepatitis
ranging from mild infection to death. The disease is usually centered in the liver and
jaundice (yellow coloration of skin) is usually present along with hepatomegaly
(enlarged liver). Liver damage may result in hepatitis. Most patients recover from
hepatitis. Bed rest is usually required during the first phase of the disease. Hepatitis is
viral in nature. Therefore, there is no specific treatment or cure other than to let the
disease run its course. The physician treating a person who has hepatitis must carefully
observe the patient and treat symptoms and complications when they arise.
g. Cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is a disease of the liver characterized by degeneration
and necrosis of liver cells with fatty deposits. Although the specific cause is unknown,
malnutrition, vitamin deficiency, and alcoholism definitely are causative factors and
contribute to progression of the disease process. The liver has a number of vital
functions in the body and, hence, cirrhosis is a serious condition. A wide variety of
symptoms may be present, but treatment almost always consists of adequate rest,
abstinence from alcohol, and a carefully selected diet. Vitamin supplements may be
necessary for the patient. There is no "cure" for cirrhosis and the outlook for the
improvement of the patient is not good. Only 50 percent of the patients who have
cirrhosis survive beyond two years and only 35 percent survive beyond five years.
h. Cholecystitis. Cholecystitis is an inflammation of the gallbladder. An
infection may be the source of the inflammation. If an infection is present, the patient
may be prescribed antibiotics. Cholecystitis is usually treated by placing the patient on
a low-fat diet. The gallbladder may be surgically removed if the inflammation becomes
i. Cholelithiasis. Cholelithiasis is the presence of gallstones, calcified deposits
of cholesterol, bilirubin, and bile salts. Cholecystitis usually must be treated with the
surgical removal of the gallstones.
j. Diabetes Mellitus. Diabetes mellitus is insulin deficiency. This insulin
deficiency results in the inability of body cells to take up and use glucose. Therefore,
the glucose (sugar) remains in the blood and the blood levels eventually rise to
extremely high levels and eventually "spill over" into the urine. This is one of the classic
signs of diabetes mellitus. There is no cure for diabetes mellitus--treatment consists of
insulin replacement therapy with commercially available insulin and a very strictly
k. Ascites. Ascites is edema or the presence of fluid in the peritoneal cavity.
Ascites can be caused by a variety of factors, with cardiac or renal insufficiency or
disease being the most common.