What is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis is an inflammatory disease of liver caused by viral infection and mainly include hepatitis A, B, C, D and E viruses. The type of virus infection can be distinguished on basis of their mode of transmission (contaminated water or food), epidemology, presentation, prevention & control. Hepatitis can be very dangerous and can even lead to death when left untreated (majorly in chronic hepatitis state). Our country along with many others throughout the world show presence of many hepatitis related cases and hence proper insight becomes essential. Every year, on 28th July World Hepatitis Day is celebrated in more than 100 countries worldwide; and this day helps us to realise and practice various awareness and preventive measures to combat with this liver bane!
Hepatitis Awareness – Why is it essential?
Our liver is the most dynamic organ in our body having capability to take in all the toxins which may enter our body through medicines, consumption of alcohol, etc. Infact, it is so efficient that even 10% of its undamaged part can efficiently keep us going! When our liver is attacked with infections like Hepatitis, the symptoms may not be prominent in the beginning. And hence, utmost need to generate awareness about certain types like hepatitis B and C which can become chronic without showing any symptoms is essential. While hepatitis A is the milder version of the disease, hepatitis C and D infections are the most severe and dreaded ones.
What are the major symptoms to look out for?
Most of the time, there are no noticeable symptoms in the first week of infection; however, in the later stages one may notice –
- Feeling of fatigue
- Abdominal pain
- Yellowing of skin or eyes
- Unexplained weight loss
- Mild fever
How Is Hepatitis Diagnosed?
Diagnosis of any condition or disease is the first step in treating it. The good news is appropriate diagnosis of hepatitis can be achieved successfully in order to determine the presence of specific type of hepatitis infection.
Here, the doctor will check your abdomen for any tenderness and pain. Also, yellowing of eyes and skin if present, will also be analysed.
Simple blood tests from a reputed diagnostic centre to detect the presence of antibodies against hepatitis virus and antigen to confirm it is important. Also, analyzing the health of the liver can shed light on the condition of the infected individual.
Liver Function Tests (LFT):
A most effective way of determining liver health is by analysing its efficiency in removal of toxins, unwanted proteins and enzymes from the blood. LFT includes determination of various enzymes that are produced by the liver. Hence, if the levels of its enzyme shoot up, it will indicate that the liver is damaged or stressed.
Viral Antibody Testing:
Viral antibody testing is carried out in order to identify the type of hepatitis virus which is present. This is important, as it will aid selecting accurate treatment plan for the type.
Prevent hepatitis and save the trouble!
Here are few tips to protect our liver health:
- Avoid alcohol in order decrease the chances of damage to liver significantly
- Drink only safe water tested from certified water testing laboratory as contaminated water is a major source for hepatitis infection spread
- Avoid consumption of seafood which partially cooked as there are chances that viruses are not completed destroyed in such foods.
- Consume only properly cooked food
- Wash fruits and vegetables that eaten raw thoroughly using clean water
- Wash your hands with disinfectant or soap before consuming any food
- Wash all your vessels and cloths in hot water using soap; also dry clothes in sunlight as it helps in killing germs and avoiding chances of any type of infections
- Do not use toothbrush, scissors, nail files, razors and needles which are already used.
- Avoid direct contact with wounds of infected individuals
- Undergo routine preventive health checkup to detect any abnormalities if present
- If you have any travel plans to countries where hepatitis is widespread, ensure to get yourself vaccinated
Be it hepatitis or any other infectious disease, proper awareness in knowing how to prevent it and adequate diagnosis on right time ensures adequate protection from them. On this World Hepatitis Day ensure you are aware how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe and protected from hepatitis!