Dr. K.Chandra Kant – Consultant Medical Gastroenterologist, Manipal Hospitals Vijayawada
Hepatitis means damage to the liver. It is caused by infectious and non-infectious causes. Infectious causes include hepatitis viruses (A, B, C, D, and E), HSV, and CMV.
Non-infectious causes include alcohol, drugs like Ayurveda, homoeopathy, anti-tuberculous drugs, Wilson disease and autoimmune hepatitis.
Presenting symptoms include Fatigue, weakness, yellowish discolouration of eyes and urine, loss of appetite, and loss of weight.
Acute hepatitis is caused by hepatitis A, B, C, D and E viruses. It is due to contaminated food and water. It mainly affects children. Many patients improve with treatment. Chronic hepatitis lasts for more than 6 months. Chronic hepatitis is a common cause of irreversible liver damage and liver cancer.
The common cause of chronic hepatitis are viruses namely hepatitis B and hepatitis C
Chronic liver damage due to any cause leads to hardening of liver tissue called fibrosis and advanced stages of fibrosis cause cirrhosis, the point of no return, of the liver, established cirrhosis causes liver failure. The clinical manifestations are jaundice, abdominal distension, and swelling of the feet and face. When the cirrhosis stage advances generally the patient requires liver transplantation. Which is a promising avenue of treatment at high financial costs, post-transplantation complications, good social support and disease recurrence in the long term.
It is easier to prevent liver damage and cirrhosis when early treatment is initiated for hepatitis B and hepatitis Fortunately, with the latest medical discovery hepatitis c can be completely cured, however, treatment of hepatitis B is for prolonged duration and sometimes lifelong.
Chronic hepatitis is also a risk factor for liver cancer, as many as 80% of liver cancers are due to the hepatitis B virus and 10% are due to hepatitis C.
So prevention of transmission of hepatitis B is of prime importance, preventive measures include
Screening for hepatitis B and early vaccination
So prevention of transmission of hepatitis C includes screening for hepatitis C and early treatment.
The disease burden due to chronic hepatitis can be reduced by early diagnosis and treatment of the underlying illness.