Consumption Of Alcohol, Survival Of Virus And Debunking Other Popular Myths On Hepatitis
World Hepatitis Day
Chronic Hepatitis B and C affects nearly 52 million Indians according to the World Health Organization. Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, causing derangement and disruption in the liver function.
There are five main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. While, hepatitis can be self-limiting in some cases, in other severe cases, it can lead to fatalities such as scarring, cirrhosis or liver cancer.
On World Hepatitis Day, Dr Neeraj Saraf, Director - Hepatology Gastroenterology, Institute of Digestive and Hepatobiliary Sciences, Medanta, shares the multiple myths that exist around the condition. He feels the facts need to be addressed for ensuring timely and effective management of this disease.
Myth: Hepatitis Is A Hereditary Disease
Fact: Hepatitis is not transmitted hereditarily from one generation to the next. However, in case of Hepatitis B, the virus can be transmitted from the mother to the child during birth. This can be prevented by identifying the mother’s HBV (Hepatitis B virus) status and by vaccinating the new-born within the first 12 hours.
Myth: All Hepatitis Viruses Are The Same
Fact: Hepatitis A, B, C, D, E are different kinds of viruses. They have different modes of transmission and manifestations. While A and E are transmitted by ingestion of contaminated food, B and C are transmitted by blood (injecting, transmission, piercing, etc). Hepatitis D occurs only in patients affected by Hepatitis B through direct contact with infectious blood.
Myth: Acute Viral Hepatitis Patients Have Jaundice
Fact: The absence of jaundice does not rule out the possibility of an acute hepatitis viral infection. The virus can present itself with symptoms such as fever, vomiting, poor appetite and lethargy instead of jaundice.
Myth: Vaccination Is Available For Hepatitis
Fact: Currently, there are vaccines available only for protecting against Hepatitis A and B.
Myth: A Person Is Immune To Hepatitis If S/He Gets Hepatitis A
Fact: Patients who are affected by Hepatitis A gain life-long immunity against Hepatitis A only. However, one is still at risk of infection from other forms of Hepatitis like B, C and E.
Myth: Hepatitis Virus Does Not Survive After Leaving The Human Body, And Cannot Spread Further
Fact: The Hepatitis A virus can transmit through food, water, or surfaces that have been contaminated with fecal matter from an infected person. It can survive outside the body for months in water, and for several days in faeces. It can also live on the hands for up to four hours.
The Hepatitis B virus can transmit via blood, semen, or other body fluids of an infected person. It can survive for up to a week outside of the human body.
The Hepatitis C virus can transmit via blood, semen, other body fluids, and shared needles. It can survive outside of the body for at least 16 hours and up to four days.
Hepatitis D can only be transmitted via infected blood and can survive for a week outside the body.
Hepatitis E can be contracted from water, body fluids, and surfaces that are contaminated with infected fecal matter. It can live up to a month in fecal matter and 4 hours on the hands.
Myth: Hepatitis Patients Can Eat Only Bland And Boiled Food
Fact: It is important for Hepatitis patients to maintain good and adequate nutrition. This necessarily does not mean that the food has to be boiled and bland especially in the presence of symptoms like nausea and vomiting where food cravings need to be fulfilled. Adding turmeric to food is recommended as it has strong anti-inflammatory properties. However, consumption of glucose solution, sugarcane juice, bittergourd and radish should be avoided.
Myth: Once Hepatitis Is Treated And Cured, Alcohol Can Be Consumed
Fact: All kinds of alcohol should be avoided for 6 months post recovering from any kind of Hepatitis. This is because the virus affects the liver and the damage caused takes up to 6 months to heal and recover. In cases where the hepatitis leads to chronic liver diseases, alcohol consumption needs to be stopped for life.
Myth: There Is No Treatment For Hepatitis
Fact: Hepatitis A and E are usually self-remitting and need supportive symptomatic treatment only. Very effective oral medicines are available for treating hepatitis B and C.