AWARE OF SILENT KILLER DISEASES LIKE HEPATITIS ‘A, B, C’
YOU MUST KNOW FOLLOWING INFORMATION
What Is Hepatitis?
Any kind of inflammation of liver is known as hepatitis. This fatal disease can be caused by drugs, alcohol or virus. although the most common cause is viruses, viral hepatitis. There are various kinds of such disease, but three of them are the most common and they are known as hepatitis A, B and C.
What Are The Symptoms of Hepatitis?
Beginning of hepatitis is not linked with Symptoms or signs, but when they do occur they are usually general and include fatigue, decreased appetite, nausea, mild fever, or mild abdominal pain. The specific sign for liver disease may occur, as yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice) or (Peliya) and darkening of the urine. If the infection becomes chronic or (unending) as is the cause with B and C of such disease, that is, lasting longer than months, the symptoms and signs of chronic liver disease may begin. At this point the liver often is badly damaged.
What Happens with Hepatitis A?
Viral diseases generally are transmittable. Hepatitis A is highly transmittable. It is usually spread from person to person via a fecal-oral route, meaning via fecal contamination of food. It is usually a mild disease, and many people do not know they are infected. The virus is eliminated by the body rapidly, and it does not bring about long-term damage. Fortunately, safe and effective vaccines are available to prevent HAV.
How Does Hepatitis A Spread?
Type A virus exists in the stool and it is spread from person to person via fecal contamination. It is spread via contaminated food or water by an infected person who gets small amounts of stool on his or her hands, does not wash his or her hands, and passes the stool onto food that is eaten by others. An example of this is outbreaks of type A in daycare centers for young children when employees don’t wash their hands after changing diapers, and then they pass the viruses to the next child they feed. In addition, fecal contamination of water in which shellfish live can contaminate the shellfish, and the shellfish can pass the virus to people who eat the shellfish raw.
Who Is at Risk for Hepatitis A?
Travelers to different countries with high infection rates and the inhabitants of those countries are at higher risk for developing type A. The Centers for Disease Control issues travel advisories that identify the countries with outbreaks or widespread type A. Eating raw or uncooked foods increases the risk for type A. In this regard major step must be taken against this fatal disease at higher level.
Hepatitis A Treatment
We don't need any cure for type A since the infection almost always resolves on its own. Nausea is common, though transient, and it is important to stay hydrated. It is recommended that strenuous exercise be avoided until the acute illness is finished.
What Happens with Hepatitis B?
A majority of adults who contract type B have none to mild symptoms, and then the virus resolves spontaneously; however, about 5% of people are not able to eliminate the type B virus and develop chronic infection. If a chronically infected mother gives birth, 90% of the time her infant will be infected and develop chronic type B, usually for life. This may give rise to serious complications of liver disease later in life such as liver failure, liver damage, and liver cancer. Fortunately, Safe and effective vaccines are also available to prevent type B virus.
How Does Hepatitis B Spread?
Persons infected with type B can pass the virus to others through blood or body fluids. The most common way of becoming infected is through an infected person’s needles to inject illegal drugs in Pakistan. Less common ways are by contaminated razors or toothbrushes and used instruments etc. Type B is passed from infected mother to infant in over 90% of cases.
The spread of type B occurs when blood from an infected person enters the body of a person who is not infected. Type B is spread in the following ways:
- Sharing needles or getting a tattoo or piercing with an infected needle
- During childbirth when the mother is infected
- Needle sticks
- During childhood, when an infected person’s blood comes in contact with a break in a child’s skin
- Sharing personal care items (i.e., razors, nail clippers or toothbrushes)
- The bite of an infected person
- Unprotected sex
Who Is at Risk for Hepatitis B?
Although unprotected sex is the most common way of becoming infected with type B, infection is more likely for people who have sex with more than one person. Sharing needles also is an important way of spreading hepatitis B. Other risk factors are being a health care worker, but infection usually is related to needle sticks. There is also a risk of getting infected by living with someone who has chronic type B, in part due to sexual transmission.
Chronic Hepatitis B Treatment
The cure is aimed at controlling the virus and preventing damage to the liver for type B. Antiviral medications are available which will benefit most people, but the medications need to be chosen carefully, and the treatment needs to be monitored in order to assure successful cure and prevent or treat medication-related side effects. The risks of treatment may not be justified for some individuals.
What Happens with Hepatitis C?
With acute hepatitis C, the virus is eliminated in 25% of people. The rest of the people become chronically infected and later could develop serious complications such as liver cancer and liver failure. There is treatment, however, for type C which usually can prevent the complications. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for type C virus.
How Does Hepatitis C Spread?
Type C is transmitted mostly by infected blood, for example by sharing needles when injecting prohibited drugs. The virus is spread much less commonly with tattoos or body piercing with a contaminated needle. Mothers may pass the virus to their infants at birth, and the infant becomes chronically infected. The risk of spreading type C with sex without any protection is small, but having sex apart from the partners, HIV, or rough sex increases the risk. About 2% to 6% percent of adults infected with hepatitis B, and about 75 to 85 percent of people infected with hepatitis C, may strengthen a chronic infection, according to the CDC. Infants and children who contract hepatitis B do have a higher risk for chronic infection.
Who Is at Risk for Hepatitis C?
It only has one exposure to type C to get chronically infected, so people who have injected illegal drugs even one time or many years before could have chronic type C, and not knowing it since there are often no symptoms. People with blood transfusions prior to 1992 - when they began testing blood for transfusion for type C - also may have become chronically infected.
How Is Hepatitis Diagnosed?
Chronic hepatitis slowly attacks the liver over many years without causing any symptoms. If the infection is not diagnosed and treated, many people will strengthen damaged livers. If suspected, viral hepatitis of all types can be easily diagnosed by blood tests.
Who Should Be Tested for Hepatitis?
It is important to test people with symptoms or exposure to all types as well as people at high risk such as illegal drug users and people with sex apart from the partners. There is a high prevalence of chronic hepatitis individuals of Asian heritage, and they should also be tested. It is estimated the 10% of Asians living in the U.S. have chronic types that probably has been present from birth.
What If You Test Positive for Hepatitis?
If testing result reveals that you have viral hepatitis there are certain steps to prevent your passing the viruses to family, friends and the people whom you live with. Washing the hands helps prevent transmission of type A. Not sharing needles, razors, nail cutters, or toothbrushes also will reduce transmission of viral hepatitis. Everyone must be vaccinated against type B.
Chronic Hepatitis C Treatment
Treatment of chronic type C has evolved, rendering many earlier drugs obsolete. The drugs currently used (as of March 2016) include pegylated interferon, ribavirin, elbasvir, grazoprevir, ledipasvir, sofosbuvir, paritaprevir, ritonavir, ombitasvir, dasabuvir, simeprevir, daclatasvir. These are always used in various combinations, never alone. Interferon is given by injection while the other medications are pills. Research has shown that combinations of these drugs can treat all but a small proportion of patients; however, serious side effects of treatment can occur.
You need to discuss treatment options with a well-informed physician, as the appropriate combination is dependent upon different factors. These include genotype (there are 6), prior treatment and results, drug in tolerances, presence of compensated liver disease or uncompensated cirrhosis, presence of HIV co-infection, other complicating conditions and liver transplantation.
Monitoring Chronic Hepatitis
To manage the foundation of type B and C, the progression of the lever disease and its treatment must be monitered. Doctors regularly follow blood tests to determine how well the liver is functioning. Ultrasound examinations and CT scans can determine, if there are complications such as liver cancer that can be treated more effectively if found early.
Cirrhosis is the most common complication of chronic hepatitis. Cirrhosis can be detected with simple tests, but the liver biopsy is the best way to diagnose it. Cirrhosis occurs as the liver is destroyed and it is associated with liver failure, a life-threatening condition. The signs of cirrhosis include retention of fluid swelling of the abdomen or lower extremities, nausea, fatigue, and weight loss. Later, confusion and jaundice occur due to the accumulation of chemicals normally removed by a healthy liver.
Complications: Liver Cancer
The major reason of liver cancer is type B and C, and can strengthen silently as the liver gets cirrhotic. Blood tests, ultrasound examinations, CT and MRI scans can identify the cancers (seen here in green). Biopsy of the liver is very important to definitely diagnose the cancer. If the cancers are found early, a small proportion of patients can be cured easily.
The liver serves many functions including the manufacture and removal of chemicals that allow cells to function normally, elimination of toxic chemicals, digestion of food and the production of many proteins that the body needs. Thus, if a large portion of the liver is damaged, the liver cannot perform these critical functions, it is impossible to live without a liver. If the liver fails, a liver transplant may be the only hope, but it is not easy to find a healthy liver to transplant.
Hepatitis A and B Vaccines
Vaccines may protect against type A and B. The Centers for Disease Control recommend type A vaccination for children 12 to 23 months of age and for adults who travel or work in locations with a higher prevalence of type A infection. Vaccination for type A also has to be given to people with type B and C. If the mother has chronic type B, the infant must receive the type B vaccine as well as type B immune globulin to prevent the development of chronic type B. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C.
Protecting Your Liver
If you have chronic hepatitis, you should prevent further damage to your liver, for example, by not having alcohol or not doing anything which can be gangrenous for your liver. Since some medications and supplements can damage the liver, before taking them you must discuss it with your doctor. Regular appointments for follow-up are important. Early progressions of the disease or complications are likely to change treatment.