A Guide on Hepatitis on 'World Hepatitis Day' Part 1

Author :- Chetana Chaudhury July 31, 2020, 8:33 a.m.
A Guide on Hepatitis on 'World Hepatitis Day' Part 1

Hepatitis doesn't define you! 

Someone has well said, “Getting Tested Early = Staying Healthy Longer" 

There is a growing need to make people aware of the severity of the disease in the region. Hepatitis doesn’t always present symptoms. 

Let's start from the foundation - What is Hepatitis? 

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. The condition can be self-limiting or can progress to fibrosis (scarring), or liver cancer. Hepatitis viruses are the most common cause of hepatitis in the world but other infections.

Also toxic substances (e.g. alcohol, certain drugs), and autoimmune diseases can also cause hepatitis.

Have you got bored by all those scientific definitions of hepatitis?

Let me tell you then in simple language. 

It is like a serial killer, it spares no one especially if you don't take care of your lifestyle and daily sanitation. It is ranked as the most dangerous murderer after tuberculosis. I hope now the seriousness of this issue gets embedded in your soul! 

Types and symptoms:

There are 5 main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. These 5 types are of greatest concern because of the burden of illness and death. They cause the potential for outbreaks and epidemic spread. 

In particular, types B and C lead to chronic disease in hundreds of millions of people. And together, are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer.

Hepatitis A (HAV is present in the faeces of infected persons and is most often transmitted through consumption of contaminated water or food. Certain sex practices can also spread HAV.)

and E are typically caused by the same reason as of  HAV. 

Hepatitis B (HBV is transmitted through exposure to infective blood, semen, and other body fluids. HBV can be transmitted from infected mothers to infants at the time of birth or from family member to infant in early childhood),

C (There is no vaccine for HCV) and D (occur only in those who are infected with HBV.) usually occur as a result of parenteral contact with infected body fluids.

Common modes of transmission for these viruses include receipt of contaminated blood or blood products, invasive medical procedures. Using contaminated equipment and for hepatitis B transmission from mother to baby at birth, from family member to child, and also by sexual contact. 

Acute infection may occur with limited or no symptoms, or may include symptoms such as jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), dark urine, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

Keep this in your checklist - Get a health check up done! 

What is World Hepatitis Day?

The vision of eliminating hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030 can be achieved. If people and countries affected by this disease were better equipped and enabled to "know hepatitis" and "act now"

The date of 28 July was chosen because it is the birthday of Nobel-prize winning scientist Dr Baruch Blumberg. Who discovered hepatitis B virus (HBV) and developed a diagnostic test and vaccine for the virus. 

The world celebrates World Hepatitis Day on 28th July. It aims to raise awareness about the disease to reduce the number of hepatitis patients around the world.

The idea is to spread awareness about the fact that "hepatitis is preventable and treatable.

~Know your place, are you at risk? 

Your doctor may order a liver test if you’re more likely to have liver damage or disease. For example, if you’re:

- A heavy drinker or alcoholic

- From a family with a history of liver disease

- Very overweight, especially if you also have diabetes or high blood pressure

- Taking medicine that can harm your liver

What Do the Results Mean after the liver test?

The results usually show the normal values along with your numbers. Keep in mind that what’s normal can vary with different labs. It also depends on whether you’re male or female.

If your results aren’t normal, you’ll likely get more tests. By itself, a liver test can’t tell you for sure that you have a certain illness.

Your doctor can help you understand what your results mean.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source, approximately 4.4 million Americans are currently living with chronic hepatitis B and C. Many more people don’t even know that they have hepatitis. 

HCV is among the most common bloodborne viral infections in the United States. Approximately 2.7 to 3.9 million AmericansTrusted Source are currently living with a chronic form of this infection.

Stanford University's Asian Liver Center estimates that 1 in 10 Asians living in the U.S. has chronic hepatitis B. 

Also, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that health care providers offer a one-time hepatitis C screening for anyone born between 1945 and 1965.  Some may have this since birth. 

You can also get infected by:

- Consuming fruits, vegetables, or other food products that got contaminated while handling

- Eating raw shellfish harvested from the virus-infected water

- Eat ice made of contaminated water

Bran Miacel from Texas in NYC, a survivor of Hepatitis (HAV) shares some tips which are vibrant. 

He told us about liver-friendly food which must be added to our diet:

Blueberries and cranberries: Rich in antioxidants named anthocyanins, both blueberries and cranberries are a storehouse of health benefits. That can increase our immune cell response and antioxidant enzymes.

Thereby, keeping your liver healthy. 

A guide on Hepatitis on World Hepatitis Day 

He emphasized importance on eating nuts, almonds and some berries necessarily in our diet daily!

Grape: Grapes help lower inflammation, prevent damage and increase antioxidant levels in the liver. Grapes are also beneficial because of the presence of a plant compound like resveratrol.

A guide on Hepatitis on World Hepatitis Day 

Have a full plate of fruits instead. 

Beetroot juice: Beetroot juice contains nitrates and antioxidants called betalains which help in reducing inflammation in the liver.  These compounds enrich natural detoxification enzymes.

A guide on Hepatitis on World Hepatitis Day 
Beetroot juice

 To stay fit!

Tips to prevent hepatitis:

1) Hygiene

Practicing good hygiene is one key way to avoid contracting hepatitis A and E. If you’re traveling to a developing country, you should avoid:

- local water

- ice

- raw or undercooked shellfish and oysters

- raw fruit and vegetables

Hepatitis B, C, and D contracted through contaminated blood can be prevented by:

- Do not share drug needles

- Do not share razors

- Let's not use someone else’s toothbrush

- It's very important, do not touch spilled blood

Hepatitis B and C can also be contracted through sexual intercourse and intimate sexual contact. Practicing safe sex by using condoms. And dental dams can help decrease the risk of infection. You can find many options available for purchase online.

2) Vaccines

The use of vaccines is an important key to preventing hepatitis. Vaccinations are available to prevent the development of hepatitis A and B. Experts are currently developing vaccines against hepatitis C. A vaccination for hepatitis E exists in China, but it isn’t available in the United States.

3) Complications of hepatitis

Chronic hepatitis B or C can often lead to more serious health problems. Because the virus affects the liver, people with chronic hepatitis B or C are at risk for:

- chronic liver disease

- cirrhosis

- liver cancer

When your liver stops functioning normally, liver failure can occur. Complications of liver failure include:

- bleeding disorders

- a buildup of fluid in your abdomen, known as ascites

- increased blood pressure in portal veins that enter your liver, known as portal hypertension

- kidney failure

- hepatic encephalopathy, which can involve fatigue, memory loss, and diminished mental abilities due to the buildup of toxins, like ammonia, that affect brain function

- hepatocellular carcinoma, which is a form of liver cancer

- death

People with chronic hepatitis B and C are encouraged to avoid alcohol because it can accelerate liver disease and failure. 

Certain supplements and medications can also affect liver function. If you have chronic hepatitis B or C. Check with your doctor before taking any new medications.

Do your bit (Act now!!):

Organize events (e.g. sports activity, fun run/walk, concert, fundraiser event) to raise political support and public awareness.

Talk to health professionals and interest groups, such as doctors, nurses, patient groups and civil society – hold a workshop to spread the word about hepatitis, the risks, and mobilize for action.

Click here to know more about the DIGITAL KIT for 'World Hepatitis Day.'

Photo by Tim Marshall  on Unsplash.