According to the World Health Organization (WHO), India has one of the highest rates of viral Hepatitis in the world, with an estimated 40 million people infected with Hepatitis B and C.
A viral infection called hepatitis damages the liver and causes inflammation in it. The disease has been known to mankind for centuries. There is evidence dating its presence back to ancient times. Hepatitis is a major health concern across the world. Millions of people are affected in India, every year.
This article talks about how the disease affects the life of the infected person. We will also learn about the causes of Hepatitis, preventive measures, and available treatment options. Let’s dive right in!
What is Hepatitis?
A viral illness called hepatitis results in liver inflammation. The infection's severity can range from barely noticeable to fatal. The hepatitis virus is of five different types. The symptoms, mode of transmission, and treatment options vary for each type.
What is the current situation of Hepatitis in India?
Hepatitis B is particularly prevalent in India, with an estimated 10-15% of the population infected with the virus. Hepatitis C is also a significant health problem in India, with an estimated 6-12 million people infected with the virus. However, the actual number of cases may be higher, as many cases go undiagnosed and unreported.
One of the major challenges in addressing Hepatitis in India is the lack of awareness about the disease. Many people are not aware of the risk factors for Hepatitis. Hence, they usually don’t seek medical attention until the disease progresses to a more advanced stage.
How does Hepatitis affect the lifestyle of the affected person?
Hepatitis can have a significant impact on the lifestyle of the affected person. The Hepatitis symptoms include fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting. In some cases, Hepatitis can lead to chronic liver damage, liver failure, or liver cancer, which can be life-threatening. Hepatitis treatment is time-consuming. It may require lifestyle changes such as avoiding alcohol and certain medications.
Different types of Hepatitis
Hepatitis A: A type of Hepatitis virus that is spread through contaminated food or water. Symptoms of Hepatitis A may include fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fever, and jaundice.
Hepatitis B: A type of Hepatitis virus that is spread through contact with infected blood or bodily fluids. During childbirth, it can also be passed from mother to kid. Fatigue, joint pain, appetite loss, nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, and jaundice are just a few of the signs and symptoms of hepatitis B.
Hepatitis C: A type of Hepatitis virus that is spread through contact with infected blood. It is often transmitted through the use of shared needles or other injection equipment. Fatigue, joint pain, appetite loss, nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, and jaundice are a few Hepatitis C symptoms that may appear.
Hepatitis D: only has an impact on those who have had hepatitis B. It is spread through contact with infected blood.
Hepatitis E: A type of Hepatitis virus that is spread through contaminated food or water. It is more common in developing countries and is typically a short-term infection that does not cause long-term liver damage.
Causes of Hepatitis
Viral infections: The most common cause of Hepatitis is a viral infection. Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E are all caused by different types of viruses.
Alcohol consumption: Excessive alcohol consumption can cause inflammation of the liver. This may lead to Hepatitis.
Exposure to toxins: Exposure to certain chemicals or toxins can cause Hepatitis. This includes exposure to drugs, chemicals, or other substances that are harmful to the liver.
Autoimmune disorders: Certain autoimmune disorders can also lead to Hepatitis.
What is the treatment for Hepatitis?
The treatment for Hepatitis depends on the type of virus causing the infection and the severity of the disease. In general, treatment may include rest, hydration, and medications to manage symptoms. Antiviral medications may also be prescribed to help manage the virus and reduce the risk of long-term liver damage. People with chronic Hepatitis may require ongoing medical care to manage their symptoms and prevent complications.
The treatment for Hepatitis depends on the type of virus causing the infection and the severity of the disease. Hepatitis A typically resolves on its own within a few weeks. Its treatment is focused on relieving symptoms and preventing dehydration. Hepatitis B and C are more serious and require medical intervention.
Antiviral medications may be prescribed to treat chronic Hepatitis B and C, and in some cases, a liver transplant may be necessary. However, access to these treatments can be limited in some areas of India. This is especially true for rural areas where healthcare resources are scarce.
How can one protect themselves from Hepatitis in India?
To protect yourself from a Hepatitis infection:
Practice good hygiene
Steer clear of dangerous habits like sharing needles or engaging in unprotected sex.
Get vaccinated against Hepatitis A and B, especially if you are traveling to a region with a high number of Hepatitis A or B
Wash hands regularly, especially before eating or preparing food, and after using the restroom
Avoid consuming any food or drink that could be contaminated with the virus.
Avoid raw or undercooked shellfish or contaminated water
A severe viral infection that damages the liver is hepatitis. The hepatitis virus is known to be of 5 main types. They have unique symptoms, modes of transmission, and treatment options. While treatment is available for Hepatitis, the best way to protect yourself is to get vaccinated and take steps to avoid exposure to the virus. If you suspect an infection, it is important to seek medical attention right away. Timely diagnosis can help you prevent complications and ensure that you receive the appropriate care.
The Author : Dr. Sunil Khattri
Dr. Sunil Khattri MBBS, MS(General Surgery), LLB, is a Medical doctor and is a practicing Advocate in the Supreme Court of India and National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi.