CHENNAI: Several practices such as the use of unscreened blood, sharing needles for injections, tattooing, ear piercing, needle-stick injury in health workers and risqué sexual practices are considered to be high-risk for contracting different forms of hepatitis.
Hepatitis A and E are transmitted mainly through contaminated food and water. Doctors talk about safety and preventive measures against hepatitis, on World Hepatitis Day.
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. There are five main types of the hepatitis virus – A, B, C, D and E. Hepatitis B, C and D infections are spread by infected blood products and body fluids. Hepatitis A and E are transmitted mainly through contaminated food and water.
In acute hepatitis, patients have fever, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite and weight.
At later stages, the liver is damaged, and the colour of urine, eyes, and skin becomes dark yellow.
Doctors say that even though hepatitis B and C may cause no symptoms for years or even decades after infection, the viruses may damage the liver. For this reason, screening is an essential tool for early detection and treatment of infection.
“Early screening can prevent serious illnesses, such as cirrhosis and liver cancer and limit the spread of infection. For those with hepatitis C, screening test involves testing for the presence of hepatitis C antibodies,” explained Dr K Vinodini, senior consultant microbiologist, Neuberg Diagnostics.
Hepatitis can lead to a clinical spectrum of serious complications — asymptomatic infection, mild febrile illness with jaundice, acute liver failure, chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma.
Talking about non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), doctors say that it’s an advanced form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and is caused by build-up of fat in the liver.
“NASH is most common in patients who are overweight or obese. It’s treated by reducing the fat and the resulting inflammation in the liver. Weight reduction, control of blood sugar levels and blood lipid levels are the mainstay of treatment. Left untreated, NASH con progress to chronic liver disease or cirrhosis,” said Dr Jayaraj Magnus Mansard, senior consultant, Promed Hospital.