How common is Hepatitis B and C in India?
In India, as per latest estimates, 40 million people are chronically infected with Hepatitis B and 6 to 12 million people are chronically infected with Hepatitis C.
How is Hepatitis B and C spread?
Hepatitis B or C is spread when blood or other body fluid infected with the Hepatitis B or C virus enters the body of a person who is not infected through parenteral or sexual route. This can happen through multiple ways, including getting Hepatitis from an infected mother at birth or from a family member as a young child.
What are the ways Hepatitis B and C is not spread?
Hepatitis B or C is not spread through sharing meals, bowls or utensils with someone who has the virus. It is also not spread by breastfeeding, hugging, kissing, holding hands, coughing, or sneezing.
What are the symptoms of Hepatitis B and C?
Hepatitis B and C does not always cause symptoms. Many people can live with Hepatitis B and C for decades without feeling sick. If symptoms do occur, they can include: Fever, Fatigue, Loss of appetite, Nausea, Vomiting, Abdominal pain, Dark urine, Jaundice (yellow color in the skin or the eyes).
How serious is Hepatitis B and C?
About 15%–25% of people with chronic Hepatitis B develop serious liver conditions including liver damage, liver failure, or even liver cancer. Hepatitis C similarly causes liver cirrhosis, failure and cancer.
How do people know if they have Hepatitis B or C?
A Hepatitis B or C test is the only way for people to know if they are infected. Most people who have Hepatitis B or C don’t feel sick, so they don’t know they are infected. In fact, nearly 2 out of 3 people with Hepatitis B or C do not know they have it.
Who should get tested for Hepatitis B or C?
Every Adult should get them tested for Hepatitis B and C.
Why should people get tested for Hepatitis B and C if they don’t feel sick?
Even though most people with Hepatitis B and C don’t feel sick, liver damage can still occur. Getting tested helps people access medical treatments that can save their lives. People who have never been infected with Hepatitis B can get a safe, effective vaccine to protect them from getting the infected.
How is Hepatitis B and C treated?
People with Hepatitis B and C should be monitored regularly by Gastroenterologists or Hepatologists (liver specialists). Doctors can monitor for signs of liver disease and prescribe needed treatment. Several medications are available for Hepatitis B and C treatment. However, not every person with chronic Hepatitis B needs to be on medication. Most people with Hepatitis C need treatment and they can be successfully treated.
What else can people with Hepatitis B and C do to take care of their liver?
People with Hepatitis B and C should avoid alcohol because it can cause additional liver damage. They also should check with a health professional before taking any prescription pills, supplements, or over-the-counter medications, as these can potentially damage the liver.
Dr. Naveen Kumar, Consultant Gastroenterology, Narayana Superspeciality Hospital Gurugram