Hepatitis: Its Symptoms, Diagnosis and Prevention: Must know

There are many causes of hepatitis - alcohol, viral infections and drugs

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Last Updated on July 29, 2021 by The Health Master

Hepatitis: Its Symptoms, Diagnosis and Prevention:

World Hepatitis Day observation is done every year to honour Dr Baruch Blumberg, a Nobel Laureate who identified the Hepatitis B virus and designed its lab test and devised the vaccine. This year, the theme of the day is ‘Hepatitis can’t wait’.  

What is hepatitis?

Hepatitis simply means inflammation of the liver. There are many causes of hepatitis – alcohol, viral infections and drugs. It is estimated that one person dies every 30 seconds worldwide due to hepatitis-related illnesses. If left untreated, it may result in liver failure, permanent damage of the liver (cirrhosis) and sometimes liver cancer.  

What is viral hepatitis?

Certain viruses infect the liver and cause inflammation — Hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D and E are known to do this. Many other viruses and even C-19 can trigger hepatitis.

How does it spread?

Hepatitis A and E are spread through contaminated water or exposure to the faecal matter of infected person. Hepatitis B, C and D are transmitted through blood and body fluids. Unprotected sex, and sharing needles and grooming accessories can lead to the spread of the virus. They can also be transmitted from mother to child. 

Symptoms and diagnosis

Hepatitis can trigger symptoms like fever, nausea, fatigue, body ache and diarrhoea that may precede jaundice. There are blood tests available to detect these viruses. If you or your family members are having a fever or jaundice, then you should get tested.

Prevention

There are vaccines available for Hepatitis A and B. Consult your physician on advice regarding vaccination. Ensure every newborn child is vaccinated against these viruses. Those with fatty liver and other liver conditions should especially get vaccinated as viral hepatitis may be severe in them.

Ensure clean and safe drinking water for your households

  • Avoid sharing grooming accessories (razor, nail cutter)
  • Do not share needles
  • Always practice safe sex
  • Avoid close interaction with infected individuals

Treatment and recovery

First of all, there is no reason to worry. Most cases of hepatitis may be mild. Consult a gastroenterologist. The doctor will advise you on further tests to assess the viral load and impact on the liver and you may be put on antiviral medications.

By Dr Anil Jose Kokkat

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