Marked by severe liver inflammation, hepatitis is a condition that disrupts normal liver function and carries potential life-threatening risks. The condition may either be triggered by an infection or due to the autoimmune response to non-infectious agents like heavy drinking, which can lead to severe liver injury. Hepatitis is broadly classified into five different types - Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis D and Hepatitis E. In this blog, we have elaborated on these types in detail along with the various preventive measures that can help to bring down the risks of the same, with the help of experts specialising in liver transplant in India.
As the name suggests, the condition is caused by the Hepatitis A virus or HAV, which generally spreads via contaminated eatables and drinks. Generally, patients infected with Hepatitis A recover without any major complications; however, in some cases, it can lead to fulminant liver failure. Fortunately, Hepatitis A can be prevented with vaccination. It generally lasts for around 2 to 4 weeks, with the symptoms ranging from mild to severe. The symptoms are more evident in adults as compared to kids. About 10 per cent of children below the age of 6, who develop hepatitis A, are likely to develop jaundice.
Hepatitis A usually spreads via the faecal-oral route, i.e. by the consumption of food products or water that has been contaminated by the virus. This happens when someone touches the food with dirty hands or prepares meals using unsafe water that hasn't been treated properly. It can also spread via physical contact, especially during intercourse.
Hepatitis B is a potentially life-threatening infection caused by the Hepatitis B virus, which can be acute or chronic. With around 1.5 million new cases diagnosed every year, Hepatitis B claims more than 800,000 lives every year. The chances of an adult with hepatitis B virus developing a chronic infection is not more than 5 per cent, whereas the chances are significantly high in infants and small children. It can lead to severe liver damage and has also been listed as a leading risk factor for liver cirrhosis, but at the same time, Hepatitis B can also be prevented with vaccination.
The virus usually spreads via contaminated body fluids and can be passed on from a mother to the child growing in her womb. It can also be transmitted through contaminated blood, saliva, vaginal fluids, seminal fluids, reuse of infected needles and piercings. As per the top liver specialists in Gurgaon, the risks are high in people who use injectable drugs or have multiple partners.
Like Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C has also been associated with severe complications like cirrhosis. The condition may be acute or chronic, with the severity of the symptoms varying from one person to another. With about 1.5 million cases diagnosed every year, more than 5.8 million people across the globe are living with chronic hepatitis. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine available, as of now, that can help to prevent hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C virus spreads via infected blood through reusable injections, blood transfusions, injectable drugs and unsafe intercourse. Unsafe healthcare practices, like lack of proper sterilization and sanitization, also happen to be a leading cause of Hepatitis C transmission.
Hepatitis D only occurs amongst people who are infected with the Hepatitis B virus.. The condition affects about 5 per cent of the population of people with Hepatitis B. This means that both infections co-exist in the patient's body. If you have been immunized against Hepatitis B, it naturally alleviates your risks of developing Hepatitis D.
Hepatitis D is highly contagious and can spread via skin contact as well. The condition can also be bloodborne and in rare cases, it can be passed down from a mother to her child.
Hepatitis E happens to be the leading cause of acute viral hepatitis in Indian adults. A lot of patients suffering from it do not need medical intervention, however, in rare cases, the condition can lead to serious damage and complications in the long run.
Hepatitis E spreads via eatables and water contaminated with an infected person's faecal matter. It is most commonly seen in people living in rural areas and slums who do not have access to safe drinking water.
Tips that can help to prevent the risks of hepatitis
● Do not miss your vaccinations. Get vaccinated against Hepatitis A and B
● Practice safe sex and always wear protection
● Do not share your needles with anyone
● Do not share food and personal belongings with someone who has been infected
● Make it a habit to wash your hands before meals
● Clean all the fruits and vegetables with running tap water.
● Take extra precautions while travelling to areas that do not have proper sanitation
● Always carry bottled water
● Avoid getting piercings and tattoos from unauthorized places.
If you wish to know more about hepatitis and how it can be prevented, consult the best doctors in Gurugram for unparalleled care and guidance.
Dr. Ankur Garg,
HOD and Senior Consultant, HPB Surgery & Liver Transplant