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Bringing hepatitis care closer to you; Hygiene and vaccine is the key

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. There are five main types of the hepatitis virus – A, B, C, D and E. Hepatitis B and C lead to chronic disease in hundreds of millions of people globally.

Sharbani Banerjee | New Delhi |

World Hepatitis Day: With the theme ‘Bringing hepatitis care closer to you’ WHO wants to raise awareness and promote global action on viral hepatitis. The aims is to raise awareness about the need to simplify and bring hepatitis care to primary health facilities, community-based venues and locations beyond hospital sites, so that care is closer to communities and people wherever they are.

What is Hepatitis

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. There are five main types of the hepatitis virus – A, B, C, D and E. Hepatitis B and C lead to chronic disease in hundreds of millions of people globally, and together are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis, liver cancer and viral hepatitis-related deaths.

July 28 is celebrated every year as World Hepatitis Day. According to the doctors, this chronic disease of liver can be prevented and cured.

Let’s take a look what the doctors have to advise about precautions and treatment of the Hepatitis.

Dr Anil Arora, HOD, Gastroenterology, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital

“It is advisable to avoid the usage of contaminated water. Boil your water and then drink if you can, maintain personal hygiene, wash your hand, get yourself vaccinated if you haven’t yet. Also, maintain dental, ear, nasal hygiene as Hepatitis is dangerous than Covid.”

Dr. Rajesh Upadhayay, Senior Director, Gastroenterology, Max Super Specialty Hospital, Shalimar Bagh

His advice is to get vaccines for hepatitis A and hepatitis B.

“Choose safe food and water, practice good personal hygiene, avoid alcohol which is the most effective strategy to prevent alcoholic hepatitis,” he advised.

According to him the treatment of viral hepatitis depends on the type and stage of the infection.

“However, if you have severe hepatitis, you may need to see a doctor.

If you are suffering from severe hepatitis, then within a few weeks the symptoms start to subside and the patient can get relief. You can easily reduce this infection by improving diet and lifestyle,” he added.

In case of chronic hepatitis, medicines need to be taken and people who have alcoholic hepatitis, they need to stop drinking, added Dr Upadhyay.

Dr. Bir Singh Sehrawat Director and HOD Gastroenterology Marengo QRG Hospital, Faridabad

 He says Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver mainly caused by a viral infection.

He said fever, jaundice, dark urine, fatigue, nausea or vomiting, abrupt weight loss, loss of appetite and pain in the right upper abdomen are considered the major symptoms for hepatitis.

As a precaution Dr Sehrawat advised, “Newborns should be vaccinated for hepatitis B. Avoid street food. Only drink bottled water or RO water. Avoid spicy, junk, oily, and canned food to keep this liver related fatal disease at bay. Try to eat meals in smaller proportions for easy digestion. Opt for bland foods like bananas or rice. Don’t share your toothbrush, needle with others. Have safe Sex. Drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated. Quit alcohol or limit its use to keep your liver healthy.”

Dr .Chetan R. Kalal , First DM Hepatologist of Maharashtra, Chief Hepatologist and Liver Transplant Physician, Masina Hospital, Mumbai

“Hepatitis A and E are primarily caused by consuming contaminated food and water. Hepatitis B, C, and D are typically caused by contact with infected blood and bodily fluids.”

In India, viral hepatitis is a major cause of health-care burden and is now regarded as a threat comparable to the “big three” communicable diseases: HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis.

Dr Alisha Chaubal- Consultant – Hepatology and Liver Transplant at Global Hospital, Parel Mumbai

“Apart from viral hepatitis there are other causes of liver disease like alcohol, medicine or toxin induced, fatty liver, autoimmune and genetic diseases. In our country fatty liver disease is on the rise especially in patients with obesity, diabetes, cholesterol, thyroid problems and should not be ignored as it can cause liver damage or cancer. Also one should avoid taking over the counter medications as several herbal and allopathic medicines can cause liver injury.”

She added, “Most important is the avoidance of unnecessary medications. Acetaminophen / Paracetamol and medication against vomiting should not be given. These types of hepatitis can be diagnosed by simple blood tests and an abdominal sonography. A non-invasive test called liver elastography or fibroscan can let us know the exact extent of liver damage without resorting to a liver biopsy.”

Dr Praveen Jha, MD, DM, Consultant Gastroenterology, Regency Hospital

“It is very important for everyone to get tested for hepatitis at least once a year. We sometimes suggest even some healthy people for hepatitis B infection tests because the virus can damage the liver before showing signs and symptoms. We get many such cases in a year in which people have got hepatitis B and now they are being treated for liver damage.”