World Hepatitis Day is on 28th July. This is the day when the whole world comes together to spread awareness regarding the disorder. This is because there are 400 million people with hepatitis globally. Not just that, it stands at number 8 in the list of diseases with high mortality rates.
What is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. The liver is responsible for a set of very important functions-
- It produces a kind of bile that helps in digestion
- It helps in flushing away toxic matter from your body
- This organ helps in breaking down carbohydrates, proteins and fats
- It stores vitamins and minerals for the body’s use
- It plays a part in blood clotting
And when you get Hepatitis, your liver has trouble carrying out its duties.
What are the different Hepatitis Types?
There are 5 Hepatitis types– A, B, C, D, and E. Each is triggered by a different kind of virus.
Hepatitis A –
Hepatitis A is caused by the Hepatitis A Virus (HAV). It is not a dangerous disease and does not last long. You may get this illness if you consume food or water that contains the faecal matter from a person infected with Hepatitis A.
Hepatitis B –
This disease is triggered by the Hepatitis B Virus. It can be transmitted to you if you come in contact with bodily fluids of an infected person such as blood, semen or vaginal fluids. Sharing razors or syringes with a person with Hepatitis B can also give you this disorder.
Hepatitis B is more dangerous than Hepatitis A and lasts longer. In India, nearly 40 million people have been diagnosed with this type of Hepatitis.
Hepatitis C –
Hepatitis C is the result of an infection caused by the Hepatitis C Virus or HCV. It is transmitted when you have sexual contact with a person diagnosed with Hepatitis C or if you use the same syringe. It affects 6-12 million people in India.
Hepatitis D –
This is triggered by the Hepatitis D Virus (HDV). It is the rarest kind of Hepatitis and always is accompanied by Hepatitis B. The only way you can contract Hepatitis D is through contact with infected blood.
Hepatitis E –
Hepatitis E Virus causes this form of Hepatitis and it is water-borne. That is why the disease is especially common in those regions of the world where sanitation is inadequate.
The Autoimmune Aspect –
Hepatitis can sometimes be a result of an autoimmune response. Your immune system might see your liver as a threat and start attacking it. This will make your liver swell up.
What are Some Common Hepatitis Symptoms?
There are a few signs that will indicate that you have a case of acute Hepatitis-
- Yellow tint to your skin and eyes
- Rapid and unexplained loss of weight
- Body and muscle ache
- Dark coloured urine
- Your stool may become pale
- Pain in the abdomen
A Hepatitis Screening Panel can tell you if you have contracted any of the five types of Hepatitis.
Treatment of Hepatitis –
Hepatitis treatment is easily available-
- You don’t require treatment for Hepatitis A because it goes away on its own. You may be ordered bed rest and rehydration fluids and fever medicines. Hepatitis A vaccines can be administered on both infants and adults.
- Antiviral medicines can cure Hepatitis B. Hepatitis B vaccine in India is given in three rounds to infants within the first six months after their birth.
- Hepatitis C is also treated with anti-viral drugs. No vaccines that can prevent Hepatitis C have been invented yet.
- There are no medicines for Hepatitis D. Hepatitis B vaccine can make you immune to it.
- Hepatitis E also disappears on its own. You will be given medicines to help with fever and pain.
- Autoimmune Hepatitis is treated with corticosteroids.
On World Hepatitis Day you can pledge to adopt measures that will prevent Hepatitis. Maintain personal hygiene, keep an eye out on the food and water you are consuming, do not share needles or razors or toothbrushes and use protection during sex. Don’t forget to vaccinate your children, loved ones and yourself. Together we can make the world free of Hepatitis.