Hepatitis: The Silent Killer
Have you ever heard of viral hepatitis? If your answer is yes, then you belong to the miniscule population that is aware of the disease. Hepatitis is a medical condition in which the liver is inflamed and consequently damaged. It is most commonly caused by various preventable infections. It can be acute, which is for a short duration, or chronic, which lasts for a longer duration. Hepatitis can either be transmitted through contaminated food and water or by contaminated blood and body fluids.
Five viruses, worldwide, are typically recognised that spread viral hepatitis – A, B, C, D, and E.
Hepatitis is usually difficult to detect as it shows only mild flu-like symptoms such as fever, body aches and fatigue. These are symptoms which most individuals tend to ignore. Other significant symptoms such as weight loss, skin rashes, and jaundice could take several weeks or months to appear.
However, there is an urgent need for conversations around Hepatitis because in developing nations like India, the chances of infection are higher due to substandard sanitation and unhygienic practices. Another aspect to be looked at is that since the vaccination for Hepatitis is optional in ‘National Immunisation Programme’, most often, doctors fail to mention the risk of the disease and people remain ignorant about the availability of a vaccine.
In fact, Hepatitis is so common that most children have been infected with the Hepatitis A virus before the age of 10 years, mostly asymptomatic. And according to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 7,000 people died worldwide from contracting Hepatitis A in 2016.
In India, Hepatitis A is transmitted through contaminated water or food. Typically, these infections are constrained but can result in fatal infections in a few cases. It can sometimes cause crippling symptoms and fulminant Hepatitis which is acute liver failure. The WHO has declared Hepatitis as a major health concern in India. It takes almost as many lives as tuberculosis.
Let’s End Hepatitis: A Great Initiative
In such a situation, it’s all the more essential to take charge when it comes to your liver health and get tested for hepatitis. On World Hepatitis Day, 2020, The Times of India and Dr Reddy’s Laboratories have collaborated for an initiative called ‘Let’s End Hepatitis’. This aims at creating awareness among young parents and people who are oblivious of carrying the Hepatitis virus. Its objective is to encourage people to get timely preventive measures.
Only a small population of people know that a vaccine is available for Hepatitis A which can prevent infection by the virus. The initiative’s ambition is to change the figure ‘9/10’ and make the world Hepatitis free. The vaccine is usually given in two shots. After the first one, a booster shot is injected six months later.
Prevent your child from contracting Hepatitis by getting a vaccination on time and get yourself checked as well. If your child has missed getting the vaccination at birth, it is still not too late. Contact your pediatrician for a check up.
Disclaimer: Content Produced by Dr Reddy’s Laboratories