Viral Hepatitis is a serious healthcare threat in India and is comparable to the “big three” communicable diseases – HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis. Around 400 million people all over the world suffer from chronic Hepatitis and the Asia-Pacific region is the epicentre of this epidemic.
Dr. Bimalendu. Saha, Consultant Medicine – (MBBS, DCH, CCCR, FIAP) shared with Future Healthcare his insights about different aspects of Hepatitis disorders that can lead to adverse liver complications and how they can be prevented.
What is a Hepatitis virus?
Viruses that primarily attack the liver are called Hepatitis viruses. There are several types of Hepatitis viruses including types A, B, C, D, E, and possibly G. Types A, B, and C are the most common among them. It can attack any age group.
How can Hepatitis lead to liver Fibrosis?
Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver and is highly contagious. In the early stage Hepatitis C virus can cause mild liver damage and if timely treated the damage can be reversed. But with more time the scarring can lead to the development of hardening or stiffening of tissue in the liver. At this stage, fibrous layers are formed which becomes scar tissue in the liver and the initial phase of this impairment is known as Fibrosis.
Fibrosis becomes permanent if scarring continues over a long period of time eventually destroying the liver’s internal structure and ability to regenerate. This can lead to chronic liver malfunction, also known as Cirrhosis.
What are the causes of Hepatitis?
Damage to the liver can be caused by several factors like:
- Hepatitis virus
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- Intake of alcohol
- Addiction to drugs
- Damaging environmental toxins
- Shared syringes for drug injection
- Foods prepared or served by infected persons
- Stool or blood of infected persons
- Objects that may have trace amounts of fecal material from hand contact
Who are at a higher risk of getting exposed Hepatitis Virus?
Hepatitis B and C viral can affect wide cross-sections of people including:
- Workers in the health care profession
- People with multiple sexual partners
- Intravenous drug abusers
- People affected with Hemophilia
- People who have gone through the process of blood transfusion
What are the symptoms of liver Fibrosis?
In many cases, there are little or no symptoms of Fibrosis until liver damage becomes severe enough that is Cirrhosis. However, some of the common symptoms patients can experience if affected by liver Fibrosis are:
- Severe fatigue
- Swelling in the abdomen and legs
- Skin itching
- Loss of appetite
- FeverStomach ache
- Dark (cola) colored urine
- Light colored stools and bleeding in the digestive tract
What kind of complications may be faced by patients affected by liver Cirrhosis?
Cirrhosis can lead to complications like:
- Malignant liver tumors
- Liver malfunction and the need for liver transplant
- Yellowing of the eyes or skin at the onset
What are the symptoms of a patient affected by Hepatitis A?
Persons affected by Hepatitis A virus can become ill in 15-50 days. Hepatitis A virus patients can feel sick for several weeks, but they usually recover completely and do not have lasting liver damage. That’s because liver is an amazing organ that has the ability to regenerate damaged liver tissue and replace with healthy tissue within limits.
How can we prevent Hepatitis infections?
Hepatitis infections can be prevented by taking the following steps:
Avoid exposure to viruses
Following hygienic routine
- Preventive vaccination
- Healthy and balanced diet
- Avoid intake of alcohol
- Avoid dairy products
Dr. Bimalendu. Saha
MBBS, DCH, CCCR, FIAP