New Delhi, July 28, 2021: Globally, around 325 million people live with Hepatitis infection. Hepatitis is referred an inflammation of the liver that can cause complications. The liver is a vital organ that processes nutrients, filters the blood, and fights infections. When the liver is inflamed or damaged, its function can be affected. The common cause of Hepatitis is a viral infection, but there are other possible causes of Hepatitis as well. These include Autoimmune Hepatitis and Hepatitis, which occurs as a secondary result of medications, drugs, toxins, and alcohol. Autoimmune Hepatitis is a disease that occurs when your body makes antibodies against your liver tissue. Common forms of Viral Hepatitis include:
Hepatitis A: This form of Hepatitis does not lead to chronic infection and usually has no complications. The liver usually heals from Hepatitis A within several months. However, occasional deaths from Hepatitis A have occurred due to liver failure, and some people have required a liver transplant for Acute Hepatitis A infection. Hepatitis A can be prevented by vaccination.
Hepatitis B: It is transmitted through contact with infectious body fluids, such as blood, vaginal secretions, or semen, containing the Hepatitis B Virus (HBV). Injection drug use, having sex with an infected partner or sharing razors with an infected person increase your risk of getting Hepatitis B. The earlier in life Hepatitis B is contracted, the more likely it is to become chronic. People can carry the virus without feeling sick but can still spread the virus. Hepatitis B can be prevented by getting a vaccine.
Hepatitis C: About 75% to 85% of patients with Hepatitis C develop a chronic liver infection. It often does not show any symptoms. No vaccine is yet available to prevent Hepatitis C.
Hepatitis D: Hepatitis D only happens to people who are infected by the Hepatitis B virus. If you are vaccinated against Hepatitis B, you will be protected against the Hepatitis D virus.
Hepatitis E: This type of Hepatitis is spread by ingesting contaminated food or water. Hepatitis E is common throughout the world. Even though vaccines exist, they are not available everywhere.
Most people recover from Hepatitis, and the disease is often preventable. However, it is still considered a serious health risk because it can:
- Destroy the liver tissue
- Spread easily from person to person
- Weaken the body’s immune system
- Cause the liver to fail
- Cause liver cancer
- Cause death (in rare cases)
TIPS TO PREVENT HEPATITIS: Hepatitis is a preventable disease, and the following precautions can keep you safe. Practising good hygiene is one key way to avoid contracting Hepatitis A and E. If you’re traveling, you should avoid:
- Local water
- Raw or undercooked shellfish and oysters
- Raw fruit and vegetables
Hepatitis B, C, and D contracted through contaminated blood can be prevented by:
- Not sharing drug needles
- Not sharing razors
- Not using someone else’s toothbrush
- Not touching spilt blood
Hepatitis B and C can also be contracted through sexual intercourse and intimate sexual contact. Practising safe sex by using condoms and dental dams can help decrease the risk of infection. Vaccination is another effective way to stay protected against Hepatitis A and B. Experts are currently developing vaccines against Hepatitis C. Above all, prevention, hygiene practices, and vaccination are the most effective tool against Hepatitis. Speak to your doctor today to know more.
Currently, we are facing an epidemic of another form of Hepatitis which is Fatty Liver Disease. This is because of sedentary life, changing eating habits and obesity. Also, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension are risk factors associated with it. It is diagnosed by sonography and Liver Function Test. If it’s not corrected, it will lead to the development of Cirrhosis and Liver Cancer. So a healthy traditional diet, weight control, exercise, and regular check will help prevent this disease which affects 25% of the population.
(Dr Rakesh Patel is Consultant, Gastroenterology, Fortis Hospital, Kalyan)