Many workers understand the risks of injuries on the job when they work in dangerous industries. However, they may not realize that exposure to toxic chemicals or other substances could cause them to suffer a serious occupational illness like cancer or lung disease. Workers exposed to hazardous chemicals could also develop toxic hepatitis—a life-threatening disease of the liver.
What Is Toxic Hepatitis?
Toxic hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver caused by exposure to certain harmful substances. While it can be caused by alcoholism and certain medications, it can also develop when a worker is exposed to hazardous chemicals. Some of these chemicals include:
- Dry cleaning solvent like carbon tetrachloride
- Vinyl chloride, which is used to make plastic
- Herbicides like paraquat
- Industrial chemicals like PCBs
- Volatile solvents
Workers in many industries—such as construction workers, factory workers, painters, dry cleaners, and landscapers—are exposed to these harmful chemicals and risk getting toxic hepatitis. While PCBs are no longer produced in the United States, they can be found in electrical systems, oil used in motors and hydraulic systems, adhesives, tapes, oil-based paints, and many other products workers must use.
Symptoms of Toxic Hepatitis
Toxic hepatitis develops over time, and the person may not experience any symptoms. Sometimes, the only way this deadly disease is discovered is through a blood test. However, a person could exhibit the following symptoms:
- Abdominal pain in the upper right area of the abdomen
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weight loss
- Dark-colored urine
Treatment for Toxic Hepatitis
The first step in treating toxic hepatitis is determining what is causing it to occur. A person could receive the following treatments:
- Stopping exposure to the toxin. Once the cause of the toxic hepatitis is identified, it is critical that the person not be exposed to it. Stopping the exposure can result in the inflammation of the liver and the symptoms being reduced.
- Hospital care. In some cases, the person would need to be hospitalized to receive intravenous fluids to reduce the nausea and vomiting.
- Liver transplant. When the damage to the liver is severe, the person’s only option is a liver transplant where his liver is replaced with a healthy liver from a donor.
If you suffer from toxic hepatitis, you could be facing a life-threatening disease that could require monitoring throughout your life. If the damage is severe enough, you may no longer be able to work—at least until you receive a liver transplant. However, you could be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for your lost wages and more.
We’re here to help if you’ve been injured at your workplace. Order our free book, Injured on the Job? Learn How to Avoid Becoming a Work Injury Horror Story, to learn about your rights under workers’ compensation laws.