In 1990s hepatitis was considered as a widespread health problem. About 1.4 million people all over the world get hepatitis A annually. It has been estimated that in parts of Asia and Africa, approximately one in ten people suffers from chronic Hepatitis B. Hepatitis is a condition which involves inflammation of the liver, it is most commonly caused by the various strains of the hepatitis virus but could also be caused by infections, toxins, alcohol or autoimmune disorders. Hepatitis A, B, C, D, E are the five main types of hepatitis virus. Among this HAV (hepatitis A) is the most prevalent. And then HCV (hepatitis C), it is the major cause of liver cancer and cirrhosis.
The liver is very important as our heart and brain. It is the largest internal organ of our body. It performs a vital role to survive like filtering the waste, poisons, bacteria from our blood, transforms food, stores vitamins and sugars. The liver produces bile which is important for normal digestion. That is why it is called warehouse of the body. It purifies the toxic substances including alcohol into a harmless substance that our body can absorb; also changes, activates or inactivates some medicines. It transforms proteins, cholesterol and fat. The liver is instrumental in activating some enzymes which are essential to our metabolic function. This organ is also involved in synthesising the blood clotting factor which helps wounds to heal. So when it is not working well it leads a lot of problems to our body. The liver is a vital organ and liver failure can lead to death.
Risk Factors of Hepatitis A
Some risk factors of hepatitis A are,
- Household or unsafe sexual contact with an infected person.
- Sharing contaminated needles.
- Poor sanitation and personal hygiene.
- Use of street drug.
- Eating food that is prepared with an infected food handler.
- Contamination of food and water by feces of an infected person
Risk Factors of Hepatitis B
Some risk factors of hepatitis B are,
- Unprotected sex with several partners.
- Coming in contact with infected blood or the transfusion of infected blood
- Use of intravenous drug.
- Infants of hepatitis B positive mothers.
- Tattooing and body piercing.
Risk factors of Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is also known as "an emerging public health threat" and the "silent epidemic". Some risk factors of hepatitis C are,
- Use of IV drug.
- Transfusion of infected blood and organ transplant.
- Hemophilia and hemodialysis.
- Needle sticks injury.
- Also includes the risk factors of hepatitis B.
Risk Factors of Hepatitis D
Some risk factors of hepatitis D are,
- Relationship with a person who have hepatitis B.
- Abuse heroin or intravenous drugs.
- Homosexual persons.
- Receive blood transfusions.
- Man having sex with a man.
Risk Factors of Hepatitis E
Some risk factors of hepatitis E are,
- Food or drink that is contaminated with hepatitis E.
- Eating undercooked meat or touch an infected animal like a pig.
- The recipients of immunosuppressive medication.
- Eating undercooked meat of an infected pig or any other animal.
- Drinking impure water.
- Consuming food or water that has been contaminated with feces of an infected person or animal
- Poor personal hygiene
Risk Factors of Alcoholic and Autoimmune Hepatitis
Alcohol is hazardous if it is not taken with certain limitation. Alcoholic hepatitis occurs when someone drinks alcohol without any limitation. The byproducts of alcohol damages our liver seriously. Also, if someone does not get cured of hepatitis C perfectly and he or she takes alcohol heavily, then the person will be at high risk of getting affected with alcoholic hepatitis. On the other hand, the reason behind Autoimmune hepatitis is quite unclear to the researchers. But the researchers think when the immune system stands against the cells of the liver and target them instead of targeting bacteria and other pathogens, then Autoimmune hepatitis occurred. Also, autoimmune hepatitis is a genetic problem that researchers believe.
As the liver is an important part of our body so we should take care of it instead of damaging it. Regular check up and avoiding unusual foods and drinks keep our liver fit.
The two main ways that the hepatitis virus can spread is through contaminated food and water or through infected body fluids like blood and semen. Hepatitis A and E are spread through contamination of food and water, HAV can also be spread through sexual contact. The main cause of HAV and HCV in developing countries is poor sanitation.
Hepatitis B, C, and D are more commonly transmitted through procedures like transfusing infected blood into an individual, transplanting of infected organs into and individual, use of infected instruments during surgery and use of infected needles during medical injections or drug abuse. Accidental cuts or pricks by contaminated instruments and needles also pose a risk. Healthcare workers in developing countries are also a high-risk group.
The latter three strains of hepatitis can also be transmitted from infected mothers to newborn babies during childbirth or from infected family members to children or coming in direct contact with the blood of an infected family member or friend.
HDV only occurs in patients already affected by HBV. This combination can lead to serious complications.
Excessive alcohol can damage and kill off liver cells leading to inflammation and Alcoholic hepatitis. Certain toxic substances can also similarly damage the liver leading to Hepatitis. Autoimmune Hepatitis occurs when the body’s own immune system for some reason sees the liver as a foreign body and starts to attack it and kill off liver cells.
Here are five ways that you cannot contract Hepatitis:
While HAV and HEV can be prevented by good personal hygiene, cooking food well and boiling water before consumption, here are a few ways in which one cannot contract hepatitis B, C, and D:
1. Sharing utensils with an infected person
2. Physical contact like hugging or holding hands or even kissing
3. Being in the vicinity when infected person coughs or sneezes
4. Through breastfeeding. The viruses cannot be transmitted through mother’s milk
5. Use of a swimming pool with an infected individual