Viral Hepatitis: What You Should Know

With the entire world under the spell of a viral pandemic, people across the social diaspora got a rude wake-up call in terms of personal health. Staying informed on safety measures and healthcare protocols is the need of the hour, to make things easier in an already strained medical sector.

Speaking of viruses, we’re going to tackle a few notorious culprits in this article. They’re a virus family with a penchant for disrupting the health of your liver, and like most others of their kind, they can be silent yet deadly. Viral hepatitis is a much bigger threat than you may imagine, being right up there with AIDS, TB, and malaria as prevalent communicable diseases. No worries, however, this article will keep you in the loop on all you need to know to combat and nip this scourge in the bud.

Basic Info on Viral Hepatitis

Let’s kick things off by understanding the disease from its roots. Hepatitis is an umbrella term for the inflammation of the liver. Viral infections are by far one of the most common triggers for hepatitis, but other risk factors (like alcoholism) can also be causative agents.

Viral hepatitis is communicable, spreading through contaminated food, body fluids, and water. Considering the liver’s vital role in digestion and detoxification, viral hepatitis poses a serious threat, culminating in liver failure and cirrhosis if left unchecked.

There are five viruses known to cause hepatitis in humans. The HV family follows similar patterns in their pathology, with a few differences here and there.

Hepatitis A (HAV)Acute & pronouncedSymptom suppression
Hepatitis B (HBV)Chronic, prolongedAntivirals
Hepatitis C (HCV)Long-term, chronicMedication, transplant (if severe)
Hepatitis D (HDV)Only along with HBV (chronic)Interferon medication
Hepatitis E (HEV)Acute and major symptoms (pregnancy threat)Self-cure, no known medication

If you’re doing the maths, two variants are chronic, two are acute and one is an offset of another variant (HDV). None of them are to be disregarded, however, and even the most acute cases of viral hepatitis require medical attention at the earliest. The disease has been a thorn in India’s healthcare sector for many years now. To its credit, the government has implemented countermeasures to tackle this disease, but it can’t help those who won’t help themselves, right?

Viral Hepatitis in India

Part of what makes viral hepatitis a veritable health concern in India is the prevalent lack of clean water supply and sanitation.

– The country shows a notable pattern in HAV, HBV, and HEV, all presenting unique conundrums in terms of treatment.

– India accounts for 11% of the global total for HBV infections, clocking over 40 million cases on average.

– Despite being chronic, HAV and HEV are very potent pathogens in terms of spread. Between 2010 and 2013 alone, there were 315 viral hepatitis outbreaks across the country. HAV is more widespread, contributing to the total count of acute liver failure patients in India.

– Furthermore, a lack of awareness on safe practices among the Indian public is complicating matters. Archaic practices like bloodletting and unsafe drug administration are leading to a risk factor of 71.2% for contracting HCV.

– Let’s not forget that the lower economic strata of Indian society cannot afford procedures like liver transplantation! Spreading awareness about viral hepatitis mitigation and treatment is of paramount importance in India.

Transmission Modes of Viral Hepatitis

Like most virus-borne diseases, viral hepatitis is highly contagious across its typical media of transmission. The three main modes of spread for viral hepatitis are:

Contaminated Water: HEV is the most well-known pathogen of the lot to use water as a vector. HAV also spreads through water. The virus can enter your system by being absorbed through your gut as well as your skin, so proper sanitation is key.

Body Fluids: Transmission through infected blood and other body fluids is one of the primary ways chronic viral hepatitis spreads (HBV and HCV).

Contaminated Food: Unlike other pathogens, hepatitis viruses are able to resist the changing conditions in food processes and infect people who consume contaminated food. HAV and HEV are known to spread through this mode.

Diagnosis, Symptoms & Treatment of Viral Hepatitis

The epidemiology of viral hepatitis makes it extremely difficult to detect pre-infection, especially since there are other causal factors for hepatitis as well. A lot of the diagnostic procedure involves assessing the damage done to the liver. For viral hepatitis, however, doctors usually perform biopsies & blood tests to search for traces of the virus in your system.

If you are exhibiting any combination of the following symptoms, please consult a medical professional ASAP.

– Abnormal urine and stool

– Constant fatigue

– Feverishness, similar to jaundice

– Drastic weight loss and prolonged appetite loss

Viral hepatitis treatment is administered depending on the causative virus strain, and the severity of liver damage and symptoms. Antiviral drugs are used to treat the most prominent cases, but further measures may be required in severe cases, such as liver transplants.

Liver transplant surgery is done all over India by the best liver transplant surgeons

To prevent such cases but still many forms of hepatitis have no dedicated cure.

Vaccination: Your Shield

There are no vaccines yet for hepatitis C and E. However, vaccines for hepatitis A & B (the two most dangerous types) are administered to all newborns. The complete vaccine’s effect lasts lifelong. Health organizations the world over strongly recommend that all newborn children receive this series of three shots to safeguard against hepatitis.

Chances are you’ve already had your shots when you were young, so no worries! If you find that you or someone you know is not vaccinated against hepatitis, please do what is necessary and ensure the shots are administered, in the interest of public health. The vaccines can be administered to adults, so better late than never!

Viral Hepatitis: A Fight We Can Win

With five fearsome heads, viral hepatitis may seem like a monster that can leave victims scarred for life. If we do our part as responsible citizens and promote good sanitation and health practices all around, we can vanquish this disease for good!

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