What is Hepatitis?
What do you mean by Hepatitis?
Hepatitis is inflammation of the Liver. Inflammation is our immune system’s response to a stimulus like certain viruses, other infections, toxic substances such as alcohol or certain drugs. It may even be due to autoimmune diseases affecting the liver.
Can I get Hepatitis? How is it caused?
There are 5 major types of viruses which cause it: A, B, C, D, E.
Hepatitis A and E:
- Hepatitis A and E viruses are transmitted through food or water contaminated with feces of infected persons.
- Infection with these viruses causes symptoms such as Jaundice (yellow eyes and skin, dark urine), pain in abdomen, loss of appetite, nausea, loose motions, fatigue and fever.
Hepatitis B, C and D:
- Infections with Hepatitis B and C are of serious concerns since they lead to severe consequences in the long run. Patients who are already infected with hepatitis B can ONLY become infected with Hepatitis D.
- Hepatitis B and C virus spreads through contact with infected body fluids during receipt of contaminated blood or blood products, invasive medical procedures using contaminated equipments, sharing of needles, accidental needle sticks in health care workers, from mother to baby at birth, and also by sexual contact.
- Hepatitis C is passed through contact with contaminated blood. You are at a higher risk of developing it, if you have:
- Received a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1994
- Received clotting factor concentrates before 1987 with hemophilia
- Were born between 1945 and 1965, which has the highest incidence of hepatitis C infection because of poor awareness
- Undergone hemodialysis treatments for prolong period of time.
What will happen if I get infected with a Hepatitis virus?
- Infections with Hepatitis A and E viruses are mild in majority cases, with most people making a full recovery. It may be severe and life threatening in patients with a compromised immunity.
- In a person who recently developed Hepatitis B, the immune system can clear it from the body. In a large number of people it presents first as an acute infection.
- However, Hepatitis C remains silent for years. If the infection persists more than 6 months, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C can possibly lead to serious damage to the liver such as Scarring of the liver (cirrhosis), Liver cancer and Liver failure.
- Hepatitis B and C are treated with Anti-viral drugs and Interferons. The treatment helps reducing the risk of liver disease. If the liver is severely damaged, you may opt for liver transplant.
How can I save myself from Hepatitis?
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” said Benjamin Franklin. It cannot be truer for Hepatitis!
- Get yourself Vaccinated for Hepatitis B and C, if you are exposed to any of the risk factors or are travelling to a region where Hepatitis B is common
- You can get yourself vaccinated to prevent HAV infections. Safe and effective vaccines to prevent HEV infection have been developed but are not widely available.
- Get your blood tested for Hepatitis B and C.
- Be cautious when undergoing body piercing or tattooing
- Practice safer sex and know the HBV status of any sexual partner
- Stop using illicit drugs
This World Hepatitis Day, let’s resolve to protect our loved ones from it. Help a friend or relative become aware about this deadly disease. Who knows whose life you might save, just by a simple forward?
Stay aware. Stay Protected.
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