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Hepatitis: All You Need to Know

The month of May is Hepatitis Awareness Month and to bring out our readers’ attention towards it, let’s understand its meaning and different types first.

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. It is caused by viruses that enter the body through different routes to attack the liver. The liver is one of the largest and busiest organs of the body. For example, it is the liver only that convert the nutrients in food into substances. It helps produce the proteins that help the blood clot. It helps the body to produce bile each day that breaks down and help the body to absorb fat. A healthy liver represents good health. And hepatitis is the biggest threat to liver functioning. There are five different types of hepatitis- A, B, C, D, and E. Let us understand the meaning of each type in detail.

Hepatitis Awareness Month

Hepatitis A: Hepatitis A virus (HAV) is transmitted through person to person contact or through food and water contaminated with faecal matter. The most common symptoms include upset stomach, diarrhea, fever, and jaundice that can last several months. Consumption of shellfish from impure water is the common route of infection.

Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is transmitted between people through contact with blood or other body fluids such as saliva, semen or vaginal fluids of an infected person. If left untreated, it can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Treatment includes medications such as antivirals and in severe cases, a liver transplant may be needed. HBV does not really have symptoms.

Hepatitis C: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is transmitted through direct blood or blood contract typically through injection drug use and sexual contact. Similar to HBV, HCV is also difficult to diagnose as it shows zero symptoms. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C, therefore early prevention and treatment is mandatory.

Hepatitis D: Hepatitis D virus (HDV) is a serious liver disease also referred to as delta hepatitis. HDV is contracted through direct contact with infected blood. You can only get HDV if you have HBV and therefore it is considered as the most severe form of hepatitis. No vaccine is available for HDV but HBV vaccination is effective.

Hepatitis E: Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is transmitted through infected food and water. It is a waterborne disease mainly found in areas with poor sanitation and can be deadly to pregnant women. It causes engorgement and inflammation of the liver. Only drink purified water and eat fully cooked food.

Speak to Dr. Manish Joshi, an expert gastroenterologist in Bangalore to know further.

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