World Hepatitis Day, observed on July 28 every year, aims to raise global awareness of hepatitis. Worldwide, 300 million people are living with viral hepatitis unaware. Without finding the undiagnosed and linking them to care, millions will continue to suffer, and lives will be lost.
It is estimated that about 40 million people are suffering from chronic Hepatitis B and 6 to 12 million people with Hepatitis C. The pressing issue at the moment is that most people are unaware that they are suffering from a Hepatitis infection and unaware of this, they may be passing on the infection to others.
Initial symptoms could include fever, muscle pain, change in appetite, general uneasiness which could progress into excessive tiredness, a drastic change in the colour and smell of urine accompanied with yellowing eyes and skin (signs of jaundice).
Hepatitis spreads through contact with infected bodily fluids. Apart from avoiding high risk behaviors such as practicing unsafe sex and allowing unsafe, unhygienic materials like needles and blades to come into contact with the bloodstream, one can also ensure they are following a healthy lifestyle to strengthen their immune system. This can be done by following a balanced diet with a good amount of fruits and vegetables, variety of whole grains in moderate quantities, adequate protein and fibre intake combined with the right proportion of healthy fats and oils, aided by enough exercise.
Hepatitis B surface antigen test, Hepatitis B core antigen test, Hepatitis B surface antibody test, liver function tests could be conducted to detect Hepatitis B. Anti HCV antibody test is done to detect Hepatitis C infection
Inputs by Dr. Mallikarjun Sakpal, Consultant – Hepatology & Liver Transplantation, Aster CMI Hospital