The monsoon rains bring much-needed relief from India’s scorching heat. Enjoying fried pakoras and samosas with a cup of cool tea on a rainy day is like a dream come true. But the respite and enjoyment that a shower brings also comes with its own set of problems: the season can wreak havoc on your body.
The liver becomes a very vulnerable organ at this time of the year, as the rainy season causes numerous water and foodborne infections. People are exposed to hepatitis A and E viruses during the rainy season.
The World Health Organization (WHO) calls viral hepatitis a “major public health problem” in India. According to WHO, hepatitis E virus (HEV) is the most important cause of epidemic hepatitis, and hepatitis A virus (HAV) is more common among children.
While viral hepatitis can affect any age group, Dr. Laurence Peter, director of gastroenterology and hepatology at Sakra World Hospital, says young people are more vulnerable to hepatitis A and E (via the fecal-oral route – when feces enter the body through mouth through contaminated food or fingers). “Hepatitis A and E are self-limiting diseases,” he adds.
Dr. Neeraj Saraf, Director of Hepatology and Gastroenterology at the Institute of Digestive and Hepatobiliary Sciences at Medanta Hospital, Gurugram, clarifies that hepatitis A and E infection can happen to anyone. “There is no defined risk group for the disease,” he says.
“ Back to recommendation stories
The National Center for Disease Control has a name for viral hepatitis called “silent disease”. In some cases, it may be asymptomatic, and in later stages it can lead to liver damage. However, Dr. Rakesh Patel, senior consultant gastroenterologist at Kalyan Hospital, says hepatitis is treatable and curable in its mild form.
On World Hepatitis Day, ETPanache Digital reached out to health experts to educate you about the disease and its types.
What is hepatitis?
Viral hepatitis is an infection of the liver that can lead to acute or chronic inflammation. The disease transmitted by the virus is divided into five types – A, B, C, D and E. “Hepatitis D does not occur in India. Hepatitis A and E are the same type, as are hepatitis B and C,” says Dr. Saraf. He speaks.
Hepatitis A and E are transmitted through contaminated water and unwashed food. Hepatitis E, predominantly found in Africa, Asia, and South America, is similar to HAV infection.
On the other hand, hepatitis B and C (HBV and HCV) are bloodborne diseases that are transmitted through contaminated blood, surgical equipment, needles, blood transfusions, from mother to child during childbirth and sexual intercourse. Hepatitis D usually affects people who are also infected with hepatitis B.
Hepatitis A and E hide in the monsoon clouds.
Who is affected?
Viral hepatitis can affect anyone at any age. Dr. Patel, HAV and HEV rarely cause severe conditions and usually last four to five weeks. But viruses can easily infect children. “However, they also recover quickly,” he says.
With regard to autoimmune hepatitis, patients may experience joint pain or other autoimmune disorders.
Dr. Peter says that children with Wilson’s disease – an inherited disorder that leads to accumulation of copper in the liver, brain and other organs – may have abnormal liver function tests (AF). In some cases, children show signs of Kaiser-Fleischer rings (dark rings surrounding the iris) when examining the eyes with a slit lamp.
People with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which is an advanced form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), obesity, abnormal LFT, and uncontrolled diabetes are more vulnerable to contracting hepatitis.
Although alcohol is also a major problem with liver problems, NAFLD can affect even those who do not drink alcohol if they lead an unhealthy lifestyle. It currently affects nearly 25 percent of the world’s population. NAFLD is mainly caused by changes in lifestyle and habits, including obesity, sedentary lifestyle, stress and other factors.
Common hepatitis symptoms to look out for
Common signs of hepatitis include fever, fatigue, vomiting, loss of appetite, joint pain (prodromal symptoms), abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, clay-colored or pale stools, itching, flu, and yellowing of the skin (which may also be a sign of jaundice caused by hepatitis A).
While symptoms such as tiredness and fatigue can be seen in the early stages, people suffer from high-risk jaundice and abdominal water retention in the later stages. Some people also go into a coma and may develop liver cancer in later stages.
When symptoms are ignored, it can lead to serious complications such as cirrhosis or scarring of the liver. “It becomes difficult to reverse the condition when they suffer from cirrhosis of the liver,” says Dr. Patel.
Several complications can also cause liver failure and cancer. Therefore, understanding the symptoms and early diagnosis are critical to prevent fatal hepatitis.
Dr. Saraf says there are no signs or symptoms of hepatitis B and C. The condition can persist for 10 years and continue to damage the liver.
In some cases, there may be no symptoms of chronic hepatitis. In most cases, patients show abnormal liver function tests, which can delay prognosis and treatment.
When a case of hepatitis does not get better, it is called chronic hepatitis.
“When people start experiencing symptoms, the disease reaches a chronic advanced stage that can only be cured with a liver transplant,” he adds.
Prevention is better than cure
HAV and HEV, which cause liver inflammation, can be easily controlled with good hygiene and a healthy diet that includes healthy fluids. People should avoid eating street food and drinking open running water.
Primary prevention for hepatitis B and C is to get tested if someone has any symptoms. In addition, HBV and HCV have a genetic predisposition. If one person has it, other participants may also have the disease and should be tested as early as possible. Also, make sure that the blood transfusion is done safely and from a certified blood bank. The needles used must be fresh. People must follow safe sexual practices to avoid infection.
The method and type of hepatitis treatment varies from patient to patient, depending on whether they have an acute or chronic disease. Although acute viral hepatitis often resolves without any medication or treatment, patients should be given adequate rest and fluids. “If symptoms persist for more than two days, medical attention should be sought,” says Dr. Patel.
There are vaccines against hepatitis A and B. People with hepatitis B should get vaccinated as soon as possible after consulting a doctor, medical experts say. Hepatitis C is treated with oral medications (direct acting agents) given for 12 weeks. They have a good cure rate. “These highly effective drugs have been used since 2014,” says Dr. Peter.
“Vaccination helps provide 95 percent protection after three doses,” explains Dr. Saraf. “We generally do not advise the population of India to get the hepatitis A vaccine because the disease goes away on its own after a few weeks. In addition, the oral medications prescribed for B and C are effective and help to control the condition as much as possible.”
Vaccination, limiting alcohol consumption, and practicing good hygiene can prevent hepatitis.
Alcohol use, virus survival, and debunking other popular myths about hepatitis
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- 1 Alcohol use, virus survival, and debunking other popular myths about hepatitis
world hepatitis day
Nearly 52 million Indians suffer from chronic hepatitis B and C, according to the World Health Organization. Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that causes liver damage and dysfunction.
There are five major hepatitis viruses, called types A, B, C, D, and E. While hepatitis can be self-limiting in some cases, it can be fatal in other severe cases, such as scarring, cirrhosis, or liver damage. crayfish.
On World Hepatitis Day Dr. Neeraj Saraf, Director, Department of Hepatology and Gastroenterology, Institute of Digestion and Hepatobiliary System, Medanta, shares the many myths that exist around this condition. He believes that the facts must be taken into account to ensure timely and effective treatment of this disease.
Myth: hepatitis is a hereditary disease
Fact: Hepatitis is not inherited from one generation to another. However, in the case of hepatitis B, the virus can be passed from mother to child during childbirth. This can be avoided by determining the mother’s HBV status (hepatitis B virus) and vaccinating the newborn within the first 12 hours.
Myth: All hepatitis viruses are the same
Fact: Hepatitis A, B, C, D, E are different types of viruses. They have different ways of transmission and manifestation. While A and E are transmitted by eating contaminated food, B and C are transmitted through the blood (by injection, infection, piercing, etc.). Hepatitis D occurs only in patients infected with hepatitis B through direct contact with infected blood.
Fact: The absence of jaundice does not exclude the possibility of acute viral hepatitis. The virus can present with symptoms such as fever, vomiting, poor appetite, and lethargy instead of jaundice.
Myth: Hepatitis vaccine is available
Fact: Vaccines are currently available only to protect against hepatitis A and B.