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24 May 2019, Edition - 1410, Friday

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Coimbatore

This monsoon, prepare well to combat Hepatitis !!

Indrani Thakurata

Tomorrow is World Hepatitis Day. Taking this as an opportunity to add momentum to all the efforts to implement the WHO’s first global health sector strategy on viral hepatitis and to achieve the final goal–eliminate hepatitis, we discuss the dreaded disease in details. We step up to spread awareness to combat this deadly disease because awareness is the first step to action. So, to protect your family from Hepatitis, Dr. Ravi Gaur (COO, Oncquest Laboratories) talks at length about the disease, what causes it, the connection between Hepatitis and monsoon and the precautions that will come handy.

Hepatitis and Monsoon:

Hepatitis A is mild to the moderate viral disorder of the liver which is affected by the consumption of contaminated food and water. Unfortunately, monsoons are the best time when air/water borne infections are at its peak. Since Hepatitis A is a contagious virus that can easily infect anyone, especially when coming in contact with the person who carries the virus or through contaminated food & water, the infection spreads easily in this season. As per WHO, the risk of Hepatitis A is associated with lack of safe water, poor sanitation & hygiene. You can possibly get Hepatitis A if you drink or eat something that already has a virus in it. It is very common among young children.

As there is a high incidence of water contamination during monsoons, there is an increase in the number of cases of Hepatitis A. According to WHO, Hepatitis A is one of the most frequent causes of food-borne infections. In developing countries where the level of sanitation is low along with poor hygienic practices, the incidence of Hepatitis A is high and almost 90% children have been affected by Hepatitis A virus before the age of 10 years. “Around 60 per cent of hepatitis cases are reported during monsoon. Since Hepatitis A and E are water-borne diseases, there are higher chances that people sp with low immunity get affected by the disease during monsoons which is definitely avoidable with small precautions. Hepatitis A and E , are caused by a viruses that cause Inflammation of the liver and can lead to serious illnesses with multiple complications. The viruses are contagious and spread easily during monsoon, spl common among young children. You can possibly get them through contaminated food or water. Monsoons play a negative role in serving as a breeding ground for these viruses leading to easy spread,” emphasises Dr Gaur.

General Symptoms of Hepatitis

After acquiring infection, It takes about 2- 8 weeks before any signs appear. Typically, the signs are visible after about 2 to 4 week. Initial symptoms are

● Extreme tiredness & fatigue
● Loss of appetite
● Nausea/ Vomiting
● Fever
● Muscle pain/Bodyache

Other symptoms which develop with time are

● Dark colored urine
● Yellowness in the skin (jaundice) and eyes.
● Light-/white colored stools
● Itching of skin

“People above 50 years of age or those suffering from the long-term liver disease may have a more serious disease called Fulminant Hepatitis A virus. The signs include bleeding , confusion, and tremors etc. Acute liver failure is rare, occurring in less than 1 per cent of cases in Hepatitis A. Acute liver failure occurs more commonly with Hepatitis E with a case fatality rate up to 3 per cent. Pl consult your doctor immediately if you feel any of these symptoms,” he adds.

Precautions:

Since prevention is better than cure, follow simple measures to keep this disease away.
• Avoid outside food and water. Maintain hygiene and always wash your hands before having food.
• If you are drenched in the rain, always take a shower and wash off all the bacteria from your body.
• Street-food is a big NO! Since you are not sure about the hygiene of the place, it is better to avoid outside
food.
• Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
• No Alcohol! Not only it has a negative impact on your already damaged liver, it can also make you tired.
• Small, Frequent Meals for Instant Energy. By following a healthy meal plan with a balanced diet, your body will
feel more energetic and keep you on your toes.
• Exercise regularly. Frequent physical activity & exercise not only gives you energy but improves various
functions in the body and enhances your immunity to fight against infections.

It is important to consult a doctor at the earliest sign of Hepatitis. Undergo some basic diagnostic tests in case you feel tired and have other symptoms of Hepatitis which might not be diagnosed earlier. Start taking treatment to counteract the issue. Maintain hygiene, sanitize your place and body often and always wash your hands before eating anything.

Is it fatal? What is the treatment?
“There is no specific treatment for symptomatic hepatitis A and E. Therapy is aimed at maintaining comfort and adequate nutritional balance, including replacement of fluids that are lost from vomiting and diarrhea.” Adding, “People who become infected with hepatitis virus usually get better on their own, and generally do not need to be hospitalized. However, hospitalization is required for people with life-threatening disease from hepatitis, and should be considered for symptomatic pregnant women. Recovery from symptoms following infection may be slow and may take several weeks or months.”

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