All you need to know about hepatitis

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New Delhi. Aug 23 : According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), hepatitis is one of the widely-recognised public health diseases in India, and liver diseases are the 10th most common cause of death in the country.

Gone are the days when liver diseases were only associated with alcohol consumption, says Dr. D. Palaniyamma, Medical Advisor, The Himalaya Drug Company, while detailing all that you need to know about hepatitis.

Over the years, they are on a rise due to lifestyle changes and increased incidence of obesity and metabolic diseases such as diabetes. If we were to go by the statistics, 5.2 crore people suffer from chronic hepatitis in India, and, every year, 10 lakh new patients are diagnosed with liver cirrhosis.

Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver; it damages liver cells and is normally caused by the hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D, and E. Worldwide, these viruses are the common cause of hepatitis. However, hepatitis is also caused by autoimmune diseases, inappropriate intake of medications, and intake of alcohol and harmful toxins. Among the viral causes, hepatitis A, B, and C are the most common.

Hepatitis A: The hepatitis A virus can spread from person to person and is transmitted through the consumption of contaminated water or food. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, low-grade fever, and pain in the liver area are a few of the symptoms to look out for.

Hepatitis B: The hepatitis B virus is transmitted through exposure to infected blood, semen, and other body fluids. There are chances of transmission of the virus from an infected mother to her child during birth as well. The hepatitis B virus can remain dormant in the body for six months, before symptoms appear. Hence, it is imperative to be cautious of symptoms such as extreme fatigue, appetite loss, jaundice, pain in the liver area, nausea and vomiting, and get tested for hepatitis at the earliest. The WHO statistics reveal that four crore people are chronically affected by hepatitis B in India, and 1.15 lakh die due to the complications.

Hepatitis C: The hepatitis C virus is transmitted through exposure to infected blood. This happens through blood transfusions and other products/procedures that involve handling blood. There are no visible symptoms for hepatitis C infection, and hence, it remains undiagnosed. Severe hepatitis C infection can lead to liver damage and liver cirrhosis. Thus, hepatitis C is the cause of more deaths than hepatitis A and B.

Hepatitis D and E: Hepatitis D generally occurs in those with hepatitis B. Hepatitis E virus is transmitted mainly through contaminated water.

Prevention and Treatment: With hepatic infections on the rise, the need of the hour is to create awareness about the viruses. Most people with hepatitis are unaware of the infection, thus leading to late diagnosis and not getting the right kind of treatment.

Avoid drinking contaminated water, especially from areas with poor sanitation. Ensure that a fresh needle/syringe is used on you each time, to avoid virus contraction through contaminated needles/syringes. Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for children, since they are at a higher risk of developing the infection.

Since the liver performs multiple functions, such as eliminating toxins from the body and purifying the blood, it is imperative that the liver be healthy for good overall health. Natural ingredients and medications can help suppress and clear the hepatitis viruses from the body, thus establishing a conducive environment for the liver to restore and function optimally.

Herbs like Nut Grass (Musta) and Umbrella's Edge (Nagaramustaka) can lower the viral load on the liver. Furthermore, their anti-inflammatory and hepatoprotective properties can help in managing liver diseases efficiently while normalising liver enzyme levels and liver functions.

Considering the rate at which hepatitis is increasing, it is best to be aware of the condition, its symptoms and prevention methods. Consult your physician and get your liver tested to ensure the well-being of your liver.