Hepatitis is a term that refers to inflammation of the liver. There are 5 types of Hepatitis – A, B, C, D and E that are commonly diagnosed. Some types cause distress, discomfort and can be cured if treated properly. However, others like Hepatitis C can be fatal.
Types and Causes of Hepatitis
1. Hepatitis A and E are usually caught by consuming food and drink contaminated with the fecal matter of an infected individual commonly due to improper disposal and poor sewerage.
2. The hepatitis B virus is spread in the blood of an infected person, passed from person to person through blood, semen or other body fluids
3. Hepatitis C is the most common type of viral hepatitis. It’s typically spread through blood-to-blood contact with an infected person or through sharing needles used for injections.
4. Hepatitis D only affects people who are already infected with hepatitis B because it needs the hepatitis B virus to be able to survive in the body. Hepatitis D is usually spread through blood-to-blood contact or sexual contact.
Common Symptoms of Hepatitis
2. Flu-like symptoms
3. Dark urine
4. Pale stool
5. Abdominal pain
6. Loss of appetite
7. Unexplained weight loss
8. Yellow skin and eyes, which may be signs of jaundice
How is Hepatitis Diagnosed?
Physical Checkup – During a routine physical checkup, your doctor may be able to figure out whether you are displaying symptoms. These may be tenderness or pain in your abdominal area, or if your eyes and skin are yellow.
Liver Biopsy – During a liver biopsy, a doctor will take a sample of tissue from your liver and check if there is inflammation or damage on the liver.
Ultrasound – An abdominal ultrasound will reveal if your liver is enlarged or if there is damage to the liver.
Blood Work – The presence of the hepatitis virus can be confirmed through a blood test.
The first and foremost way to prevent hepatitis is by practicing good hygiene. This includes anything from not sharing toothbrushes to making sure that you don’t touch spilled blood. Other things to keep in mind are:
– Not sharing drug needles
– Not sharing razors
– Taking preventative vaccines
– Drinking mineral water when traveling
Hepatitis in Pakistan
All five hepatitis viruses are present in Pakistan. They occur mostly due to unscreened blood transfusion, unsterilized medical equipment and reuse of syringes by healthcare professionals. In research conducted by The Pakistan Medical Research Council in 2008, it was revealed that around 13 million chronic hepatitis B and C carriers were present in the country. Please ensure that whichever surgical instruments you come in contact with are sterilized, your surrounding areas are properly sanitized and you practice appropriate hygiene.