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World Hepatitis Day: Facts About Viral Hepatitis

Hepatitis is an inflammatory condition of the liver and is mostly caused by viral infection. Viral hepatitis has been categorised in hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. Hepatitis A is always acute and short-term, whereas hepatitis B, C and D mostly turn out to be chronic and long-term. Hepatitis E is usually acute too, but it can be dangerous in pregnant women.

Infective types of viral hepatitis can be spread through contaminated food and water. Hepatitis A and E fall in this category. However, hepatitis B and C are called blood-borne (contaminated through blood and body fluid).

As WHO (World Health Organisation) is gearing up to celebrate World Hepatitis Day on July 28, we bring you some less-known facts about hepatitis.

Hepatitis A

It is caused by a virus, hepatitis A virus or HAV. The virus mostly spreads through contaminated food or water. This is the most common form of hepatitis. This disease is highly transmissible through the faecal-oral route. The symptoms include fatigue, mild fever, body pain, joint ache and jaundice. Though most of the patients recover over time naturally, they need appropriate diet and supportive care during the recovery period.

Sometimes, it can take serious turn and result into some complications that need specialised care.

Hepatitis B

This liver disease is mostly transmitted through infectious body fluid, like blood, vaginal secretion or semen that already contains HBV (hepatitis B virus). Symptoms might vary from person to person and many do not develop any symptoms even for months and decades.

The ones who become chronically affected with HBV, are more likely to grow conditions like liver cirrhosis, liver failure and cancer. Effective vaccinations are available to keep this syndrome at bay. Once diagnosed, it can be kept under control with medications.

Hepatitis E

Transmitted through food and water, this condition is similar to hepatitis A. However, this can be more acute and chronic and needs immediate treatment. It can cause severe complications in pregnant women. In Europe, this contaminated pork meat and infected water from well or reservoir. This form of hepatitis is most commonly found in the Middle East, Asia, Central America and Africa. Poor sanitation and contamination in water supply mainly pave the way for this type.

Hepatitis C

HVC (hepatitis C virus) is responsible for the onset of this particular type. Direct contact with infected body fluids can result in hepatitis C infection. Hepatitis C transmission occurs through unsterilised needles. Using contaminated needles for injecting drugs, tattooing, body piercing or acupuncture, increases the risk of being affected by this type.

Though there is no available vaccine to prevent hepatitis C, it can be cured with a very effective oral medicine that needs to be taken for 3 to 6 months. This type of hepatitis also runs higher risk of developing liver injury, liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.

If you face any underlying symptoms of hepatitis, it is advisable to get a screening done, before the infection starts causing damage to your liver.

Read more about: hepatitis facts
Story first published: Sunday, July 28, 2019, 1:00 [IST]
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