World Hepatitis Day 2022: Common hepatitis myths debunked by expert

World Hepatitis Day 2022: Common hepatitis myths debunked by expert

World Hepatitis Day 2022: Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver mainly caused by hepatotropic viruses and at times due to heavy alcohol use, chemicals or medicines. Another type of hepatitis is when your autoimmune hepatitis when your body’s immune system starts attacking healthy cells of your liver. The disease can be acute (recovery within few weeks) or chronic (continues for long). There are five known hepatotropic viruses – hepatitis A virus (HAV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), hepatitis D virus (HDV), and hepatitis E virus (HEV). When the disease is not treated on time, the infection can progress and lead to liver cirrhosis and, in some cases, cancer. The condition affects almost 325 million people who are currently living with the disease. (Also read: World Hepatitis Day 2022: Ways to protect your liver and keep hepatitis at bay)

“While the common cause of hepatitis is a viral infection, other possible causes of the disease are autoimmune hepatitis and consumption of medications, drugs, toxins, and alcohol. Some common symptoms of hepatitis are tiredness, fever, pain in the right upper abdomen, fever, and jaundice,” says Dr Rakesh Patel, Consultant Gastroenterology, Fortis Hospital, Kalyan.

Dr Patel also debunks some common myths about hepatitis in an interview with HT Digital.

Myth 1: If an infected person kisses or spits on you, you can get infected

Fact: It is unlikely for one to get infected through saliva and the chances of the infection spreading through it are rare. However, hepatitis can be transmitted through contact or body fluid, blood, semen, sexual contact, etc. if the secretions enter the blood

Myth 2: Hepatitis is a hereditary disease

Fact: Hepatitis is not a genetic disorder and cannot be inherited. But hepatitis B can be passed on from mother to the child during birth and transmitted by body fluids and some by contaminated food or water. Also, hepatitis is preventable by giving the mother antivirals and the child can be given a vaccine along with immunoglobulin within 12 hours of its birth.

Myth 3: Hepatitis A, B and C are related as these are advanced stages of hepatitis

Fact: A, B, and C are not stages but are different strains of the hepatitis virus. They are transmitted in different ways and have a few overlapping symptoms. However, there are no progressions from one infection to the next, but co-infection can occur. Hence if a patient has hepatitis, it is recommended that they get the vaccine to avoid getting other hepatitis A and E are transmitted by contaminated food or water, while B and C are caused by blood transfusion, needle stick injury or mother to child.

Myth 4: Having hepatitis A keeps you immune from other types of the virus

Fact: Most hepatitis A and E patients usually recover within a few weeks of diagnosis, as it is a short-term infection. Those who have had this infection will have lifelong protection against only the hepatitis A virus (HAV) or HEV, although they are still at risk for other strains of the virus.

Myth 5: There is no treatment for hepatitis B

Fact: While there is no cure for hepatitis, it is a manageable disease. Chronic HBV can be treated by effective antivirals that help slow, suppress, or even reverse liver disease.

Myth 6: There is a vaccine for Hepatitis A, B and C

Fact: While vaccines are available for hepatitis A and B, currently, no vaccine can prevent one from getting infected by the hepatitis C virus. Hence if one gets infected with hepatitis, the patient should get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B, as these infections can further increase your chances of liver problems. The most common way to prevent hepatitis C is taking preventions by not sharing personal items like toothbrushes, razors, and injectable equipment. Hepatitis C is treatable with antivirals and can cure almost all patients.

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