In a recent interview with Dr. Ashish Kumar, MBBS, MD, DM, Consultant Hepatologist (Liver Specialist) with Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi, here is the wonderful information about Hepatitis Virus which will help you know about the disease and fight it well:
What is Hepatitis?
“Hepatitis” means inflammation of the liver. There are various causes for hepatitis, such as, viruses (hepatitis viruses), alcohol, autoimmune diseases and certain drugs. Of these viruses are the most common cause for hepatitis. There are five viruses which commonly cause hepatitis which are conveniently named as “Hepatitis A virus”, “Hepatitis B virus”, “Hepatitis C virus”, “Hepatitis D virus”, and “Hepatitis E virus”.
What are the symptoms of Hepatitis?
Hepatitis can be either “Acute” or “Chronic”. Symptoms of “Acute Hepatitis” are: Jaundice, abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea, loss of appetite and fever. The symptoms of “Chronic Hepatitis” are fatigue, malaise, weakness etc. Many times patients suffering from “Chronic Hepatitis” have no symptoms and the condition manifests as liver function test abnormality only.
What is the difference between Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis D and Hepatitis E?
“Hepatitis A virus” causes the disease “Hepatitis A”, similarly “Hepatitis B virus” causes the disease “Hepatitis B”, and so on. All the five hepatitis viruses are capable of causing “Acute Hepatitis”, while the “Chronic Hepatitis” is caused by only “Hepatitis B virus” and “Hepatitis C virus”.
How is Hepatitis spread?
Hepatitis A and E viruses are spread by contaminated food and water while Hepatitis B and C are spread by infected blood and blood products, infected needles, sexual route and from mother to newborn baby during delivery.
Who is at risk for Hepatitis?
Following people are at risk for hepatitis, depending on type of virus:
Hepatitis A: Children and young adults
Hepatitis B: Health care workers, patients receiving blood and blood products, spouse / sexual partners of patients of hepatitis B, dialysis patients, newborn children of hepatitis B positive mothers, injection drug users.
Hepatitis C: Health care workers, patients receiving blood and blood products, dialysis patients,
injection drug users.
Hepatitis D: Patients already suffering from hepatitis B
Hepatitis E: Any adult who eats or drinks contaminated food or water.
What are the causes of Hepatitis?
As mentioned before, hepatitis viruses are the most important causes of the disease “Hepatitis”.
How is Hepatitis treated?
The treatment depends on whether the patient is having “Acute Hepatitis” or “Chronic Hepatitis”. The treatment of “Acute Hepatitis” is mainly symptomatic and supportive. The patient requires rest and good nutrition. If there are symptoms of nausea and vomiting, then anti-emetic drugs are helpful. Paracetamol is helpful if there is high fever. The treatment of “Chronic Hepatitis” depends on which virus has caused it. The treatment of “Chronic Hepatitis B” is by certain drugs like Tenofovir, Entecavir, Telbivudine, PegInterferon etc. The treatment of “Chronic Hepatitis C” is by PegInterferon and Ribavirin. However, only a specialist can decide which patients of “Chronic Hepatitis” merit treatment by these special drugs.
What is the Hepatitis vaccine? Who should get it?
We currently have vaccine against Hepatitis A virus and Hepatitis B virus. Of these two, the vaccine against Hepatitis B virus is very important. All newborns should receive this vaccine (in three doses) and they will be protected against Hepatitis B throughout life. Apart from newborns, all those should receive this vaccine who are at higher risk of contracting this virus (as mentioned above in the answer to question 5).
The vaccine against Hepatitis B virus also protects against liver cancer (caused by this virus). We must spread the awareness about hepatitis so that we can better control it.
Special Thanks to:
Dr. Ashish Kumar, MBBS, MD, DM
Consultant Hepatologist (Liver Specialist)
Sir Ganga Ram Hospital Address: Department of Gastroenterology & Hepatology Sir Ganga Ram Hospital Rajinder Nagar New Delhi, 110 060 India Phones: +91-9312792573 Website: www.DrAshishKumar.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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