World Hepatitis Day 2021: Know The Symptom And Treatment For This Liver Condition
World Hepatitis Day 2021: World Hepatitis Day is observed across the world to raise awareness about viral hepatitis under a single theme. The theme for the year 2021 is- Hepatitis Can't Wait.
World Hepatitis Day: Hepatitis refers to inflammation of the liver, most commonly caused by hepatotropic
- World Hepatitis Day is observed on 28 July every year
- Hepatitis refers to inflammation of the liver
- Hepatitis A and Hepatitis E infections are self-limiting diseases
Millions of people across the world have viral hepatitis and almost 90% of the people don't even know it. According to World Health Organization, over 325 million people are estimated to be living with Hepatitis B and/or Hepatitis C and it claims more than 4000 lives every day (greater than HIV/AIDS and Malaria). In India, Hepatitis B is the second most common cause of cirrhosis (irreversible damage of liver with scarring) after alcohol and the foremost cause of liver cancer.
Every year on July 28, World Hepatitis Day is observed across the world to raise awareness about viral hepatitis under a single theme to influence real change. July 28 was chosen to commemorate the birthday of Nobel laureate Dr. Baruch Samuel Blumberg, who discovered the Hepatitis B virus and vaccine. The day also endorses to spread the knowledge about the prevention, testing, and treatment of viral hepatitis in the general public.
What is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis refers to inflammation of the liver, most commonly caused by hepatotropic (Liver directed) viruses such as Hepatitis A (HAV), Hepatitis B (HBV), Hepatitis C (HCV), Hepatitis D, and Hepatitis E (HEV). Apart from viral infections, other causes for hepatitis include alcohol, drugs, autoimmunity, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The inflammation in the liver on long run may lead to serious liver ailments like fibrosis, cirrhosis, and rarely even liver cancer.
Transmission and symptoms
The hepatotropic viruses differ largely on base of modes of transmission, geographical distribution, the severity of liver disease and prevention methods. Viral hepatitis spreads in different ways: Hepatitis A/Hepatitis E by ingesting contaminated water or food with the stool of infected person, Hepatitis B/C transmits through direct contact with infected blood/bodily fluids via childbirth, blood transfusion, injection drug use, infected needles for tattooing/acupuncture and unprotected sexual intercourse.
Hepatitis A and E infection can cause acute hepatitis, while Hepatitis B and C infection if left untreated can cause liver failure, chronic liver diseases (in months to years) like cirrhosis and liver cancer. Patients with acute hepatitis usually complain of nausea, loss of appetite, pain in the upper right side of the belly, and sometimes yellowish discoloration of eyes or skin. Most people with chronic hepatitis have no symptoms and patients with liver cirrhosis complain of swelling in the belly and legs, bruising, jaundice, confusion, and blood vomiting. The type of viral infection and patient symptoms determine the type of tests and treatment you would undergo.
Treatment and prevention
Hepatitis A and Hepatitis E infections are self-limiting diseases and are typically treated with supportive care. If symptoms persist or severe, you may require hospitalization. There is no treatment for Hepatitis A/E and an effective vaccine is available against Hepatitis A infection.
Hepatitis B infection can cause both acute and chronic hepatitis. Most people with acute hepatitis B do not need treatment and likewise, not everyone with chronic hepatitis B needs treatment right away. If you are exposed to the virus, an injection with Hepatitis B immune globulin can prevent infection. In addition, a highly effective vaccine is available to protect from hepatitis B infection. Although there is no real cure for Hepatitis B, the antiviral drugs (slows the replication of virus) greatly reduce the risk of complications such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. Early treatment of Hepatitis C treatment can prevent liver damage. All oral directly acting antiviral medications have revolutionized the treatment in recent years and cure is now possible in more than 95% of cases. Till date there is no vaccine to prevent Hepatitis C infection. The duration of antiviral medication depends on multiple factors and treatment can even reverse the already damaged liver tissue. Rarely, in severe cases, patients might need liver transplantation surgery.
Early detection and routine screening are keys to the eradication of Hepatitis B and C before the irreversible damage sets in. By using the existing tools for elimination (vaccine for hepatitis B and antivirals for Hepatitis c), seven million deaths from Hepatitis B and C can be prevented. In addition, people with hepatitis need to follow a healthy lifestyle like avoiding alcohol intake, eating a well-balanced diet, regular physical activity, and good hygiene practices.
(Dr Pramod Kumar, consultant - Hepatologist and liver transplant physician, BGS Gleneagles Global Hospital)
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