Viral hepatitis can be termed as an inflammation of the liver due to the hepatitis virus. The basic function of the liver is to change the food we eat into energy and further detoxify the body from alcohol and other toxins.
It also helps the stomach and intestines to digest food, and make proteins that the body needs to control and stop bleeding. Inflammation takes place when the immune system senses danger, such as viruses, and sends white blood cells to surround the area to protect your body.
This leads to redness, swelling, and pain. Thus, hepatitis damages the liver and may cause scarring of the liver, called cirrhosis. Furthermore, cirrhosis can put you at the risk of liver cancer, liver failure leading to death. The most common types of viral hepatitis are Hepatitis A, B, and C.
Low-grade fever, tiredness, poor appetite, upset stomach, vomiting, stomach pain, dark urine, clay-coloured bowel movements, joint pain, and jaundice are the major symptoms of it. People who are newly infected are most likely to have one or more of these symptoms, but some people with viral hepatitis do not have any symptoms.
Hence, if you spot the symptoms then you must immediately consult your doctor. Your doctor may ask questions about your health history, do a physical exam, or ask you to opt for blood tests that look for parts of the virus or antibodies that your body makes in response to the virus.
Specific emergency treatment is indicated for viral hepatitis, other than supportive care which includes intravenous (IV) rehydration. Your doctor will also prescribe medications. But, the treatment may vary from person to person.
People should be regularly screened and vaccinated. Washing hands after using the bathroom can be helpful. In case, you use needles or syringes, do not share them with others. Avoid sharing personal items like razors, nail clippers, toothbrushes, or glucose monitors.
Do not get tattoos or body piercings from an unlicensed person. Hepatitis B and C virus have a high chance of cirrhosis and liver cancer, whereas Hepatitis A and B can be prevented by vaccination.
Article courtesy goes to Dr Roy Patankar, Gastroenterologist and Director at Zen Hospital.