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World Hepatitis Day 2023: Understanding symptoms, causes, types and prevention

World Hepatitis Day serves as a reminder of the importance of understanding and addressing hepatitis as a global health concern.

Edited By : Mayank Kasyap | Updated: Jul 28, 2023 13:20 IST
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World Hepatitis Day 2023
A boy wears a mask on the occasion to celebrate World Hepatitis Day in Kolkata on Sunday. (Photo Credit: ANI)

New Delhi: On World Hepatitis Day 2023, it is essential to raise awareness about hepatitis, a potentially serious disease that affects millions of people worldwide. Hepatitis is characterized by inflammation of the liver and can be caused by various factors, including viruses, alcohol consumption, toxins, and certain medications. Let’s delve into the key aspects of this disease and the importance of understanding its symptoms, causes, and types.

What is Hepatitis?

Hepatitis refers to the inflammation of the liver, a vital organ responsible for processing nutrients, detoxifying the body, and producing essential proteins. This condition can be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term) and may result from viral infections, excessive alcohol consumption, exposure to toxins, or autoimmune disorders.

Symptoms of Hepatitis

The symptoms of hepatitis can vary depending on the type and severity of the infection. However, some common signs include:

  1. Fatigue and weakness
  2. Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  3. Abdominal pain and discomfort
  4. Nausea and vomiting
  5. Loss of appetite
  6. Dark urine
  7. Light-colored stools
  8. Joint pain
  9. Fever

It is important to note that some individuals with hepatitis may not display noticeable symptoms, making regular health check-ups and screenings crucial for early detection and intervention.

Causes of Hepatitis

  1. Viral Infections: Hepatitis can be caused by specific viruses, with Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E being the most common types.
  2. Alcohol and Drugs: Excessive alcohol consumption and certain drugs can lead to alcoholic hepatitis or drug-induced hepatitis.
  3. Toxins: Exposure to certain chemicals, toxins, or pollutants can result in hepatitis.
  4. Autoimmune Disease: In some cases, the body’s immune system may mistakenly attack the liver, leading to autoimmune hepatitis.
  5. Metabolic Disease: Rare metabolic disorders can cause hepatitis due to an accumulation of substances in the liver.

Types of Hepatitis

  1. Hepatitis A: Transmitted through contaminated food or water, this type usually resolves on its own and rarely leads to chronic hepatitis.
  2. Hepatitis B: Contracted through infected blood, sexual contact, or from mother to child during childbirth, this type can cause chronic infection and long-term liver damage.
  3. Hepatitis C: Primarily transmitted through infected blood, it often leads to chronic hepatitis and can result in severe liver complications if left untreated.
  4. Hepatitis D: This type occurs only in individuals already infected with Hepatitis B and can worsen liver disease.
  5. Hepatitis E: Similar to Hepatitis A, it is transmitted through contaminated water and food and typically resolves without causing chronic hepatitis.

Prevention and Treatment

Prevention is essential in managing hepatitis. Vaccinations are available for Hepatitis A and B, providing protection against these types. Practicing safe hygiene, avoiding risky behaviors such as sharing needles, and moderating alcohol consumption can help reduce the risk of hepatitis.

For those already diagnosed, treatment options vary depending on the type and severity of the disease. Antiviral medications may be prescribed to manage chronic hepatitis caused by viral infections. Additionally, lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy diet, avoiding alcohol, and following medical advice, can aid in managing the condition effectively.

World Hepatitis Day serves as a reminder of the importance of understanding and addressing hepatitis as a global health concern. By spreading awareness about its symptoms, causes, and prevention measures, we can take steps towards early detection, treatment, and prevention. Regular screenings, vaccinations, and informed lifestyle choices can help protect our liver health and improve the overall well-being of individuals and communities worldwide.

First published on: Jul 28, 2023 01:20 PM IST

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