- World Hepatitis Day is observed on 28 July every year
- The theme for the year 2021 is "Hepatitis can't wait"
- There are 5 types of hepatitis that can affect an individual
The liver is one of the most vital organs of our body and plays a major role in the digestion process. Any damage caused to the liver, ultimately affects the entire functioning of the body. Hepatitis refers to a highly contagious liver infection that causes an inflammation of the liver in which tissues react to irritation or injury which generally results in swelling and pain. This happens due to a variety of infectious viruses and non-infectious agents leading to a range of health problems, some of which can even be fatal. There are many causes of hepatitis in which viral hepatitis is a major one. Viral hepatitis is caused by a virus and can either be acute or chronic.
World Hepatitis Day 2021: Know all about hepatitis
Types of viral hepatitis
There are 5 viruses that can cause viral hepatitis. These include:
Hepatitis A and Hepatitis E- This type of hepatitis is common and spreads by ingesting contaminated food or water. It does not lead to any form of chronic infection and usually has no complications. Therefore, a person can generally recover from this virus within a few months. However, in rare cases, this virus can become fatal leading to liver failure and may even require liver transplantation surgery.
Hepatitis B- This type of hepatitis usually leads to chronic infection. However, one can carry the virus without feeling sick and can spread it. Hence, it is recommended to get vaccinated to prevent it. It spreads by contaminated needles, contaminated blood transfusion, tattoo, unsafe sex, and sharing toothbrush or razors.
Hepatitis C- It is one of the most common causes of liver disease and does not show any symptoms. It can further lead to chronic infections and no vaccine has been developed yet to prevent this virus. Mode of spread is similar to hepatitis B.
Hepatitis D- This type of hepatitis only affects people who are already infected by the hepatitis B virus. Therefore, vaccination against hepatitis B can also help prevent this type.
- Urine dark in color
- Stomach pain
- Low-grade fever
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling sick
- Aching joints
- Pale or clay-colored stool
While there is no treatment to cure hepatitis A or hepatitis E, they are usually self-remitting. Hepatis B and hepatitis C can be cured through medication. Apart from maintaining hygiene and sanitization, one must visit a doctor if they have any symptoms of viral hepatitis for better management. Ignorance of symptoms can make the condition worse.
Implications of viral hepatitis
- Liver cancer
- Destruction of the liver tissues
- Weakening the immune system
- Liver failure
- Death in certain acute cases
- Get vaccinated for hepatitis A and hepatitis B
- Use protection during sexual intercourse
- Avoid sharing needles
- Maintain good hygiene
- Wash hands with soap regularly
- Avoid using items of an infected person
- Take precautions while getting inked or pierced
- Avoid sharing water or any fluids
Correlation with COVID-19
Although the recovery rate from the virus is increasing gradually, Covid-19 is creating new variants that are spreading rapidly. It has been shown basis a recent CDC study that Covid may also cause viral hepatitis while inducing a dysregulated innate immune response. Therefore, it is very important to take preventive measures to avoid the risk of viral hepatitis. Even while working at hospitals, nursing homes, dormitories, daycare centers or clinics, certain preventive measures can lower the risk of this contagious disease.
(Dr Neeraj Saraf is the Director of Hepatology Gastroenterology, Institute of Digestive and Hepatobiliary Sciences at Medanta)
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