International Hepatitis Day is observed to spread awareness on viral hepatitis every year on 28th of July.
Hepatitis viruses are of two types:
- Hepatitis A & E – They spread via intake of unhygienic food & drink.
- Hepatitis B, C & D – They spread via blood contact & unsafe sexual practices.
Hepatitis A & E causes acute hepatitis & patient have symptoms of upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting & jaundice.
Sometimes infection with these viruses are silent & do not cause any symptoms. Acute hepatitis usually resolves on its own with supportive treatment but sometimes complications including liver failure can occur.
Hepatitis B, C & D causes chronic hepatitis & may lead to liver cirrhosis & liver cancer. A patient may be asymptomatic in the initial period & later may develop fatigue, jaundice, swelling of legs & abdomen, vomiting blood etc.
For prevention of hepatitis A & E, you need to consume hygienic food & drink, wash your hands before handling food & eating.
For prevention of hepatitis B, C & D, blood and blood products screening is routinely done in India. Infected drug users should not share needles. People need to follow safe sexual practices including avoidance of multiple partners & should use condoms.
Patients with symptoms of hepatitis or family members of chronic hepatitis patients should be screened & seen by a gastroenterologist or hepatologist for further guidance & treatment.
Dr.Manik Lal Thakur, Consultant Gastroenterologist, Narayana Multispeciality Hospital, Barasat