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Hepatitis, Its Causes and Prevention

By: Dr.Ismail Mirwani

Based last year’s success, “ELIMINATE HEPATITIS” is co-endorsed by World Hepatitis Alliance and World Health Organization’s 2017 theme being used on World Hepatitis Day, July 28th to achieve hepatitis elimination globally.

Viral hepatitis is one of the leading causes of death globally, accounting for 1.34(M) deaths per year. In 2017, there are 325(M) people living with viral hepatitis, yet less than 1% people have access to treatment. Around 400(M) people on the earth are at risk of having it and 95% are unaware of this disease unless tested.

The word hepatitis comes from the Ancient Greek word “hepar” meaning ‘liver’ and the Latin “it is” meaning inflammation. Hepatitis is the inflammation of liver which is caused by viruses, alcohol, chemicals, poisons, drugs and diseases. The liver is a reddish-brown largest gland in human body weighs approximately 1.4kg, present on right side of abdomen under the rib cage. The inflammation of the liver due to viruses is known as Viral Hepatitis.

Different type of viruses cause hepatitis, some specific viruses are named Hepatitis A, B, C, D, E etc. Hepatitis B&C viruses are the most common viruses which cause Hepatitis in Pakistan. The patient exposed to virus develops Acute Hepatitis which recovers. Majority of people develop Chronic Hepatitis over several years resulting in permanent liver damage known as Cirrhosis or End Stage Liver Disease.

The other fatal complication of Hepatitis C is Liver Cancer. Hepatitis C is contagious transmitted by contact with contaminated blood such as sharing of syringes, ear and nose pricks, using unsterilized instrument for dental treatment, blood transfusion, sharp pricks from infected persons, sharing razors, tooth brush or nail clippers. Hepatitis C is not spread from food, water and casual contact. The persons who had history of blood transfusion, injections, dialysis, dental treatment and mothers with Hepatitis C are at high risk of having this disease. There is no vaccine available against Hepatitis C. The virus is in constant state of mutation so despite having treatment the patient doesn’t respond or have relapse of Hepatitis C. The non-responder and relapsers, i.e., persons who have received treatment but still they have active virus in the body, are better than those who have not been treated for Hepatitis C. The following simple measures help to prevent the Hepatitis;

Care of Hepatitis:

  • Use safe and clean drinking water.
  • Avoid eating food and drinks lying open at public places.
  • Never share personal items like razors, tooth brushes, nail clippers etc.
  • Keep tooth brushes with cap separately.
  • Keep own hair cutting kit.
  • Avoid tattooing and body piercing from public places.
  • Always ensure sterilized needles and equipment from your treating doctor.
  • Use blood and blood products after authentic screening and in life saving situations only.
  • Adopt safe and healthy life style.

The writer is Provincial Coordinator Hepatitis Program Balochistan.

Published in The Balochistan Point on July 28, 2017

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