March 29, 2023

Chandigarh Headline


World Hepatitis Day: Vaccination crucial to prevent Hepatitis-related illnesses, says Dr Rakesh Kochhar

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Mohali, July 27, 2022: To spread awareness about Hepatitis and complications associated with it, besides the need for timely diagnosis, World Hepatitis Day is observed on 28th July every year. The theme for World Hepatitis Day-2022 is ‘Bringing hepatitis care closer to you’, implying the need to make hepatitis treatment more accessible to all.

Giving an insight on hepatitis, Dr Rakesh Kochhar, Director, Gastroenterology and Hepatobiliary Sciences, Fortis Hospital Mohali, said, “Awareness about hepatitis viruses is the need of the hour. If not diagnosed properly, hepatitis can lead to inflammation of the liver and cause complications such as liver failure, liver cirrhosis and even liver cancer.”

Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver and is caused by several viruses (viral hepatitis). Common causes of hepatitis include viruses, alcohol, auto-immune disease and use of certain drugs. Viruses remain the most common cause of hepatitis which is labelled as viral hepatitis. The disease is caused by hepatitis viruses A,B,C, E or Delta along with some rare viruses like Epstein–Barr virus (EB).

Patients exhibit symptoms such as loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fever, headache, lethargy, dark urine, jaundice, abdominal pain and swelling of feet.

Hepatitis A and E spread through contaminated water and food and can cause liver failure. Both A and E viruses cause acute illness which presents as jaundice and fever, generally lasting for a few days. However, it can even be fatal in a few cases. These viruses do not cause chronic hepatitis, liver cirrhosis or liver cancer.

To safeguard oneself from Hepatitis A and E, consume clean drinking water, avoid eating cut fruits and vegetables in marketplaces. Two doses of vaccine given six months apart help prevent the infection due to hepatitis A.This vaccine is given to children up to 18 years of age. Adults, who have not been vaccinated, also can be given the vaccine.

These are of a greater concern as they can cause chronic hepatitis, which can lead to cirrhosis and hepatocellular cancer. Hepatitis B can also cause acute hepatitis indistinguishable from jaundice caused by Hepatitis A or B viruses. These two viruses are spread by contaminated blood or through body fluids; and not through contaminated food. Hepatitis C generally presents for the first time with chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis. While Hepatitis B can be prevented by a vaccine, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C . Use of Hepatitis B vaccination has been shown to prevent millions of cases of hepatocellular cancer the world over.

Three doses of Hepatitis B vaccine with the second and third doses given one and six months after the first dose provide 90 percent protection for over 20 years. High-risk groups include people on dialysis, transplant patients, intravenous drug users, prison inmates, medical professionals and sex workers. Avoid getting tattoos, visiting roadside barbers, sharing syringes and needles, besides using personal belongings of an infected person such as razors, toothbrush etc. Practice safe sex.

Dr Kochhar further added, “Vaccination remains the key to prevent illnesses due to Hepatitis A and B.”

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