Hepatitis is basically an inflammatory condition of the liver, usually caused by a viral infection but it is not the only cause of hepatitis. On this ‘World Hepatitis Day’ WHO has decided on the theme ‘Test. Treat. Hepatitis’. A grave problem concerning hepatitis is that around 350 million people across the globe are not even aware that they are suffering from it.
Types of Hepatitis:-
Hepatitis isn’t a single disease. It’s subcategorized into 5 parts; hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E.
A different strand of the virus is responsible for each type of virally transmitted hepatitis. Hepatitis A is usually for a short-term, whereas hepatitis B, C, and D usually last long and are chronic. The infection is usually acute but can be particularly dangerous to pregnant women.
This type of infection is caused by hepatitis A virus and usually, this type of hepatitis is transmitted via contaminated food or water.
Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with bodily fluids such as blood, vaginal secretion or semen. Injecting drugs, sexual contact with an infected person increases the chances of getting infected by hepatitis B.
Similar to hepatitis B, hepatitis C spreads through direct contact with body fluids hence, blood transfusion and sexual contact increase the risk of hepatitis infection.
Hepatitis B and C affect the majority of hepatitis patients.
According to CDC, around 4.4 million people in America are living with hepatitis B and C.
Hepatitis D is a rare form of hepatitis, however, occurs only in synergy with hepatitis B. It can’t multiply without the presence of Hepatitis B. Hepatitis D is rare in western countries.
The unique thing about hepatitis E is that it is a waterborne disease. Usually, areas with poor sanitation are more prone to hepatitis E infections. It typically results from consuming fecally contaminated water. Hepatitis E is also rare in western countries. However, it is quite common in countries ravaged by wars, with inadequate and contaminated water like in the Middle East, Central America, Asia, and Africa.
There are antiviral medicines and vaccines available for hepatitis A and B.However there are no vaccines available for hepatitis C and D. Currently there are no specific medical therapies to treat hepatitis E. However the infection being acute, it typically resolves on it own.
Common Symptoms of Hepatitis:-
- Flu-like symptoms
- Dark urine
- Pale Stool
- Abdominal Pain
- Loss of Appetite
- Yellow Skin and eyes
Hepatitis Prevention Tips:-
Practicing good hygiene can especially help prevent, hepatitis A and E. So when in a foreign country consider these tips:
- Avoid drinking local tap water and ask for drinks without ice.
- Avoid raw or uncooked shellfish and oysters.
- Don’t consume raw fruits and vegetables.
- Don’t share any needles used on your body.
- Do not share a razor or toothbrush with anyone.
- Always stay hydrated, because drinking enough water keeps the liver healthy and may reduce the risk of hepatitis infection.
- Reduce alcohol intake, because excessive alcohol may cause inflammation in the liver. This would invite hepatitis infections.
- Increase the intake of ginger in your diet, since ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and can be very helpful in preventing hepatitis.
However, the symptoms of hepatitis are so similar to other diseases, like flu, hence people treat it as such and hepatitis goes undiagnosed. Even after following all the precautions, if the symptoms still persist, consult a doctor for a hepatitis check-up immediately.
Written by: J. Dias