World Hepatitis Day 2020: Infection causes inflammation of liver, can even lead to cancer

According to the World Health Organisation, around 325 million people globally are living with hepatitis infection.

Myupchar July 28, 2020 16:08:13 IST
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World Hepatitis Day 2020: Infection causes inflammation of liver, can even lead to cancer

According to the World Health Organisation, around 325 million people globally are living with hepatitis infection. Hepatitis affects the liver which is the largest organ inside the human body and helps in various functions such as the digestion of food, storage of energy and clearing of impurities from the body. Hepatitis causes inflammation of the liver which can lead to severe scarring of the liver and even cancer.

World Hepatitis Day is observed on 28 July every year and is aimed at raising global awareness towards hepatitis. Here are five important things about hepatitis that everyone should know:

1. There are five infective strains of hepatitis

Hepatitis has five strains which usually affect humans: A, B, C, D, and E. Hepatitis A and E are caused by consuming food and water which is contaminated with the virus. Hepatitis B, C and D can be transmitted through contact with the body fluids (blood, semen, saliva) of the infected person and they are also considered sexually transmitted disease. As of now, scientists have created the vaccination for only hepatitis A and hepatitis B. Out of all the strains, hepatitis C is the deadliest of all.

2. Not all strains of hepatitis are infectious

There are two strains of hepatitis which are non-infectious, which means that they do not spread through humans. These two strains are:

  • Alcoholic hepatitis: This type of hepatitis occurs in people who drink excessive amounts of alcohol for many years. These people do not present with any symptoms and can suffer from sudden jaundice and liver failure. These people are also at risk of developing liver cancer.
  • Autoimmune hepatitis: In this type of hepatitis, the immune cells of the body start attacking the liver in such a way that it gets extremely damaged and stops working. It is quite rare but extremely dangerous.

3. There are many risk factors of hepatitis

There are some people who are at a higher risk of getting hepatitis and should get tested often:

  • Healthcare workers such as doctors, nurses and lab professionals
  • People travelling to areas which are highly affected by hepatitis
  • People with a weak immune system
  • People who inject any kind of drugs
  • People who are undergoing blood transfusion
  • People who perform regular blood donations
  • People who are involved sexually with hepatitis patients
  • People with HIV infection
  • Children who were born to hepatitis infected mothers
  • People who have gotten tattoos or piercings

4. Common symptoms of hepatitis

Usually, people suffering from hepatitis may not present with any symptoms and do not get diagnosed until their liver stops working completely (liver failure). But some people may present with the following symptoms:

  • Muscle and joint pain
  • High-grade fever
  • Feeling sick
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark yellow-coloured urine
  • Pale and sometimes grey-coloured poop
  • Itching of skin
  • Yellow eyes and skin (indicating jaundice)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea

In the later stages, the person may present with more severe symptoms such as swelling in the legs, ankles and feet, state of confusion, and blood in the stools and vomit.

5. Hepatitis can be prevented

Though there is a vaccination for only hepatitis A and B, you can prevent the other strains by taking some minor precautions, which are:

  • Avoid eating raw food.
  • Do not consume unfiltered water.
  • Do not share your toothbrushes, razors or any hygiene-related products with others.
  • Use condoms and dental dams for safe sex.

For more information, read our article on Hepatitis.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

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