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6 important things you need to know about Hepatitis: Cause, Spread, Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention

Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. It can damage your liver and damage can affect how well your liver functions. Hepatitis can be an acute (short-term) infection or a chronic (long-term) infection.

India TV Lifestyle Desk Edited by: India TV Lifestyle Desk New Delhi Published on: March 21, 2022 15:41 IST
Representative image
Image Source : FREEPIK

Representative image

“Hepatitis is not simple, take it seriously: Prevent yourself, from falling prey to any of hepatitis,“ say doctors and experts but not many know about Hepatitis. There are still many myths that need to be broken and questions that need answers. Here are six important things that you need to know about Hepatitis.

1. What is hepatitis?

Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. It can damage your liver and damage can affect how well your liver functions. Hepatitis can be an acute (short-term) infection or a chronic (long-term) infection. There are different types of hepatitis, with different causes. Some types of hepatitis cause only acute infections. Other types can cause both acute and chronic infections.

2. Causative agents 

  • Viral hepatitis is the most common type. It is caused by one of several viruses -- hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D, and E. In India A, B, and C are fairly common.
  • Alcoholic hepatitis is caused by heavy alcohol use.
  • Toxic hepatitis can be caused by certain poisons, chemicals, medicines, or supplements
  • Autoimmune hepatitis is a chronic type in which your body's immune system attacks your liver. The cause is not known, but genetics and your environment may play a role.

3. Spread of Hepatitis 

  • Hepatitis A and hepatitis E usually spread through contact with food or water that was contaminated with an infected person's stool. 
  • Hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and hepatitis D spread through contact with the blood of someone who has the disease. 
  • Hepatitis B and D may also spread through contact with other body fluids. This can happen in many ways, such as sharing drug needles or having unprotected sex.

 4. Symptoms of hepatitis

  • Some people with hepatitis do not have symptoms and do not know they are infected. If you do have symptoms, they may include: Fever, Fatigue, Loss of appetite, Nausea and/or vomiting, Abdominal pain, Dark urine, Clay-colored stools, Jaundice, yellowing of your skin and eyes
  • If you have an acute infection, your symptoms can start anywhere between 2 weeks to 6 months after you got infected. If you have a chronic infection, you may not have symptoms until many years later.
  • Chronic hepatitis can lead to complications such as cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), liver failure, and liver cancer. 

5. To diagnose hepatitis, its important to know 

  • your symptoms and medical history
  • physical exam report by doctor
  • blood tests for liver function tests, ANA etc including tests for viral hepatitis. Maybe some imaging tests, such as an ultrasound, CT scan, MRI, or a liver biopsy to get a clear diagnosis and check for liver damage

6. Prevention

There are different ways to prevent or lower your risk for hepatitis, depending on the type of hepatitis. Healthy lifestyle, hygiene, not drinking too much alcohol can prevent alcoholic hepatitis. There are vaccines to prevent hepatitis A and B. Autoimmune hepatitis cannot be prevented. Today we have much better drugs to cure and improve the quality of life if one is suffering from hepatitis.

(The author is Dr Ravi Gaur, Founder & Director DRG Path labs)

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not reflect the views of India TV)