World Hepatitis Day 2018: Cause, symptoms and treatment of the disease

July 28 is World Hepatitis Day. Viral hepatitis, be it hepatitis A, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C, are a group of diseases that affect the liver. The organ is responsible for breakdown of fats, detoxifying blood and recycling blood cells. According to WHO, liver diseases are the 10th most common cause of death in India.

A 2016 report by the Indian Society for Clinical Research (ISCR) says that Hepatitis C, a contagious infection of the liver, affects about 12 million people in the country.

What makes it tough to detect is that there may be no symptoms at all, or you may confuse it with the flu as they have similar signs. Watch out for fatigue, mild fever, muscle pain, loss of appetite, light coloured stools, nausea and vomiting. Not seeking treatment at the right time can lead to liver cirrhosis or scarring and eventually liver cancer.

Hepatitis A is a viral disease transmitted by the oral-faecal route by consuming contaminated water/food or through direct contact with a patient and you can recover from it without lasting damage. Hepatitis B travels through blood and body fluids, while Hepatitis C is transmitted through exposure to blood from injections and transfusions. Currently, there are vaccines for hepatitis A and B and medicines to treat Hepatitis C.

For patients of hepatitis, it is recommended that they avoid consuming alcohol as it may worsen the scarring of the liver. Weight gain can also lead to a build-up of fat in the liver causing cirrhosis, so patients should aim for weight loss.

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