World Hepatitis Day 2022: Expert debunks myths related to the infectious liver disease

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Hepatitis is a growing matter of concern in India. A large number of people tend to suffer from it and do not even know about it. The disease is a burden on the affected person, family, and the health care system. This World Hepatitis Day, observed annually on July 28, it is the need of the hour to create awareness about this disease, dispel myths surrounding it, and help one to stay hale and hearty.

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Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. It is an infectious disease caused by hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D, and E. The other causes are medicines, toxins, drugs, and alcohol. It is the need of the hour to tackle hepatitis at the right time without any delay. If not treated on time, it can progress to liver cirrhosis (scarring), fibrosis, or liver cancer and severely impact one’s quality of life. Not many are aware of it and tend to suffer in silence. Here, we dispel myths regarding hepatitis.

Myth: Hepatitis cannot be treated
Fact: Some cases and types of hepatitis can heal without any intervention, but sometimes hepatitis can even progress to liver cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and may require a liver transplant. Thus, patients will have to take enough rest, and avoid drugs and alcohol during recovery. For hepatitis C infection, a patient may be prescribed antiviral agents. Many antivirals and combination therapies are available to manage hepatitis now. So, do not panic if you have hepatitis, and seek timely treatment without any delay.

Myth: Hepatitis B means death
Fact: Do not fret as many people with hepatitis B are leading a normal life. You need to just opt for prompt treatment.

Myth: The vaccine to prevent hepatitis B will lead to side effects and is not affordable
Fact: The vaccine is one of the safest, it is not so costly, and can be taken without any fear. Do not skip the vaccine at all.

Myth: Hepatitis B tends to spread by touching, coughing, and sharing utensils
Fact: Hepatitis B will spread owing to body fluids from an infected person via sex, pricking, or transfusions. You should be cautious enough and take enough care.

Myth: Hepatitis is hereditary and can be passed on from parents to children
Fact: This is a false statement. Hepatitis is not a genetic disease nor hereditary. Hepatitis B can be contracted from mother to child during birth. However, the transmission from the mother can be prevented if the status of her HBV is known and immunoglobulin is given on time.

Myth: Hepatitis and jaundice are the same
Fact: You need to know that jaundice is one of the prominent symptoms of hepatitis and not its cause. Do not get confused between jaundice and hepatitis. You can clear your doubts with the treating doctor.

Myth: There is a vaccine for Hepatitis C
Fact: Currently, vaccines are only available for hepatitis A and B, which are caused owing to different viruses. You need to know that there’s no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C. Hepatitis can happen to anyone at any time. You need to get vaccinated at the right time after speaking to the doctor.

Myth: Hepatitis virus is unable to survive outside the human body
Fact: This is not true as the Hepatitis B virus tends to survive in dried blood for up to several days and still cause an infection. Moreover, the Hepatitis C virus is able to survive on environmental surfaces for over 10 hours.

The author is expert — diabetes, thyroid, metabolic disorders, Apollo Spectra Delhi

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