World Hepatitis Day: Everything you need to know about

Millions of people around the world suffer from viral hepatitis, yet 90% of those affected are ignorant of their illness. In India, hepatitis B is the second most common cause of cirrhosis (irreversible liver damage with scarring) and the primary cause of liver cancer.

World Hepatitis Day is observed annually on July 28 to raise awareness of the need for a unified approach to combat viral hepatitis.

We are here to address all of the inquiries that people have regarding this issue.

Here are some frequently asked questions regarding hepatitis:

What is Hepatitis?

The term “hepatitis” refers to liver inflammation, which can be caused by a variety of factors, including viruses, excessive alcohol consumption, drugs, autoimmunity, toxic substances, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Long-term liver inflammation can lead to serious liver disorders such fibrosis, cirrhosis, and, in extremely rare circumstances, liver cancer.

Viral hepatitis: what is it?

Viral hepatitis can be brought on by the hepatotropic (Liver-directed) viruses hepatitis A (HAV), hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV), hepatitis D, and hepatitis E. (HEV). People of all ages, colours, genders, and sexual orientations are susceptible to these illnesses.

What variations exist among hepatitis viruses?

Key characteristics of the hepatotropic viruses, such as their modes of transmission, the degree of liver disease they cause, their geographic distribution, and means of prevention, differ greatly among them. Infections with hepatitis A and E can cause acute hepatitis, whereas infections with hepatitis B and C, if left untreated, can lead to liver failure, chronic liver diseases including cirrhosis, and liver cancer over the course of months or years.

How does hepatitis B virus spread?

In addition to fecal-oral transmission (hepatitis A/E) and direct contact (hepatitis B/C) with contaminated blood or bodily fluids during birth, injectable medication usage, tattooing or acupuncture, and unprotected sexual activity are other ways that hepatitis viruses can spread.

 What signs does viral hepatitis show?

Patients with acute hepatitis typically feel sick, have little appetite, have pain in their upper right abdomen, and on rare occasions, their eyes or skin may turn yellow. Most persons with chronic hepatitis don’t exhibit any symptoms, in contrast to patients with liver cirrhosis who complain of swelling in the abdomen and legs, bruises, jaundice, confusion, and blood vomiting.

What are the options for treating viral hepatitis?

Since hepatitis A and E infections are self-limiting conditions, supportive care is typically used to treat them. If the symptoms are severe or prolonged, the patient may need to be hospitalised. The cause of hepatitis A/E is unknown. However, there is a vaccine that works well to stop the infection. Hepatitis B infection can result in both acute and chronic hepatitis. Most patients with acute hepatitis B do not need immediate treatment, just as not everyone with chronic hepatitis B does. Antiviral drugs (which reduce the virus’s reproduction) considerably reduce the likelihood of complications like cirrhosis and liver cancer even though there is no actual cure for hepatitis B. Early hepatitis C treatment can prevent liver damage.

How can I guard against contracting hepatitis A and E?

By consuming or drinking contaminated food, hepatitis A and E are mostly spread through these routes. To avoid contracting these illnesses, it is advised to thoroughly wash your hands after using the bathroom and before using the kitchen. Eat only food that has been freshly prepared, and only drink boiling or bottled water in areas where sanitation and water quality are in question. Get vaccinated against hepatitis A to avoid getting the disease (but this does not guard against hepatitis E infection).

How can I guard against contracting hepatitis B and C?

An injection of hepatitis B immune globulin can stop infection after exposure to the virus. Additionally, there is a highly effective vaccine for preventing hepatitis B infection. There is no hepatitis C vaccine, though.

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