What adds to the risk of Hepatitis?
Hepatitis is today’s one of the major health concern. According to a study around 290 million people across the world are living with viral Hepatitis unaware. In some cases of Hepatitis symptoms don’t occur even for years and in some cases it can even cause liver failure. Liver’s proper functioning is necessary for the better health of even other organs in the body. Here some experienced doctors are sharing about the disease and its cure:-
Dr. Naveen Kumar, Consultant, Gastroenterology, Narayana Hospital says: -
Hepatitis B is a type of liver infection. If a person is exposed in adulthood, most are able to clear the virus from their bodies without treatment. For other people, acute hepatitis B leads to life-long infection known as chronic hepatitis B which can result into liver failure, liver cancer if not treated on time. Basically, this infection spread from infected blood, unsafe sexual practices and from infected mother to child. Prevention is the key and early treatment is the best way to prevent its complications. Never ignore symptoms like: -
· Repeated episodes of Vomiting
· Loss of appetite and Jaundice
Hepatitis can be asymptomatic even for decades and can convert into chronic liver failure. According to Dr. G.S. Lamba, Chief of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Sri Balaji Action Medical, Institute:-
Hepatitis B and C: - both Hepatitis B and C are caused majorly by blood contact. In Hepatitis B around 90% cases come out normal while 10 % may go on to develop chronic infection. In some of these patients virus remains active causing progressive liver damage and finally resulting in liver cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer. While early detection is the key, one major trait of Hepatitis C is that it doesn’t show any symptoms even for decades, and when the symptoms appear the liver is already damaged to a great extent. Around 80% cases of Hepatitis C convert into chronic liver disease.
Hepatitis A and E: - Unlike Hepatitis B and C these are caused by consumption of infected water or food. The infected person develops symptoms like fever, loss of appetite and vomiting followed by jaundice. In majority of people complete recovery would occur without any permanent damage to liver. Treatment is mainly symptomatic.
Prevention: - Following steps would help in preventing Hepatitis B & C :-
· Safe blood transfusion. Blood should be tested to rule out hepatitis B&C before transfusion.
· Apart from other life threatening infections intravenous drug abusers are at a very high risk of hepatitis virus infections. Avoid such practices.
· Tattoo lovers should be aware that reuse of same needle used on other persons can bring the infection. Ask for fresh needles.
· People taking salon services like manicure, pedicure, shaving etc should be aware that contamination by blood of these instruments carries the risk of hepatitis infection. Blades, nail cutters etc may accidentally cut the skin get soiled with blood. It is not wise to use same tools on other people
· Avoid unsafe sexual practices.
· Do not use reusable syringes or needles. Always insist on disposable syringes and needles.
· Pregnant mothers with hepatitis B infection should seek proper medical advice to prevent transmission of infection to the newborn infant.
· Get yourself vaccinated against hepatitis B
While Hepatitis A and E can be prevented by:-
· Maintaining basic hygiene
· Consumption of properly cooked food, and clean filtered water.
Never ignore symptoms like:-
· Loss of appetite
· Repeated episodes of vomiting.
· Unexplained weakness lethargy or weight loss
· Bruises on skin and bleeding from gums.
Hepatitis B and C are now very much treatable. Early diagnosis and treatment can save the liver and prevent development of liver failure and liver cancer.
According to Dr. Mahesh Gupta, Senior Consultant, Gastroenterologist, Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital :-
Hepatitis is defined as a diffuse, inflammation of the liver and chronic hepatitis means inflammation existing for at least 6 months. It must be distinguished from cirrhosis, where fibrosis is widespread in liver and nodules are formed causing parenchymal architecture distortion in the liver. There are multiple etiologies for chronic hepatitis, viral infection with hepatitis B and C being the commonest. Viral hepatitis B and hepatitis C can present as acute or chronic hepatitis. The natural history of chronic hepatitis B and hepatitis C is complex and highly variable. On the contrary to acute hepatitis, chronic hepatitis usually have very smouldering course and majority of the patients are asymptomatic until advanced liver cirrhosis is developed. Since the chronic viral hepatitis is either asymptomatic or have minor non specific symptoms, patient may not seek medical help or doctors’ advice. So, people with chronic hepatitis may not be detected to have the infection until checked specifically for these. Patients are detected to have chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis when specific blood tests or imagings are done by physician or gastroenterologist either for routine check up or in view of high index of suspicion. Chronic hepatitis may persist for life long period without symptoms or the infection persisting in liver gradually can cause cell damage, persistent inflammation and fibrosis resulting in liver cirrhosis without producing active symptoms. By persistent liver cell death and fibrosis, liver function diminishes and it starts shrinking gradually. Though, only a few people with chronic hepatitis B or hepatitis C develop cirrhosis and rest may not but it is difficult to predict which patient will end into cirrhosis. Furthermore, it usually takes about 20 to 30 years for cirrhosis to develop in these people. It is to emphasize that chronic hepatitis should not be neglected because if left untreated, cirrhosis may develop which in due course of time can lead to liver failure and/or liver cancer. So it becomes important to detect chronic hepatitis before the development of cirrhosis even if the patient is asymptomatic by high index of suspicion, by routine community screening or screening of families of patients.