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HEPATITIS-deadlier than HIV

By maxwell adeyemi

Hepatitis means injury to the liver with inflammation to the liver cells.
The liver is made up of thousands of lobules, each lobule consist of ma ny hepatic [liver ] cells.
The liver performs crucial functions in the body which includes; Detoxification [filtering of harmful substances], Storage of vitamins, Synthesis of proteins, maintenance of blood sugar, production of digestive chemicals such as bile, production of cholesterols, storage of glucose as glycogen, Decomposing dead red blood cells, Production of hormones, production of urea-the main substance of urine.
When the liver is inflamed or diseased, it poses a serious threat to its function and overall sound health.
Most liver damage is caused by hepatitis viruses, such as Hepatitis A, B, C, D, E, G and X, the three most common of the hepatitis viruses are A, B and C. However hepatitis can also be caused by alcohol, medicines, chemicals, toxins as well as auto immune process[when the body attacks itself].
HEPATITIS A-caused by eating infected food or water, the food or water is infected with the Hepatitis A virus, Anal contact during oral sex can also be a risk in transmitting this virus. Nearly everyone who develops Hepatitis A makes a full recovery, it does not lead to chronic disease.
HEPATITIS B- this is caused by the Hepatitis B virus and it is spread by contact with infected body fluids-blood, semen etc, it is a sexually transmitted disease and much deadlier than HIV/AIDS. You can contract Hepatitis B via Unprotected sex [sex without condoms],using syringe and needles from an infected person, having your skin perforated with unsterilised needles [accidentally as with health workers, or when having tattoo], sharing personal items such as toothbrush or razor with infected person, A baby can become infected during child birth, or you can be infected if bitten by someone who is infected.
HEPATITIS C-is usually spread through direct contact with the blood of a person who has the disease, it is caused by the Hepatitis C virus.
It is generally perceived as the greater public health problem but this may simply be due to the fact that more people have it than have hepatitis B.
Hepatitis, which spread mainly through infected food/water[hepatitis A] and blood, semen and other body fluids [hepatitis Band C] can take years for its symptoms to appear if at all, and if left untreated, can lead to liver damage, liver cirrhosis, liver cancer and premature death.
Sometime ago I had a patient who died of Liver cancer, he never smoked, never drank and maintained what could be termed a healthy lifestyle, his family were at a loss as what could have caused the liver cancer, but later it was reported that he tested positive for hepatitis B virus about 8 years before which was not treated as he did not get sick [this may be a possible answer to the cause of his death].
In many individuals, Hepatitis infection is without any symptoms and would only become evident when it must have caused damages to the body, people tend to say that hepatitis has occurred only when they see jaundice or “yellow eyes”, but usually the organism has stayed in the body for a long time, some as long as a decade.
Although the duration of the time between which the infection is contracted and when the disease occur varies in individuals, the affected person may become a “carrier” of the virus without it affecting him/her.
But some are not as fortunate as they get sick and may develop liver disease within a short space of time.
Many do not know they have the virus unless they go specifically for the Hepatitis screening test or they already develop liver disease.
SYMPTOMS;
The symptoms of this disease can include-extreme tiredness, loss of appetite, fever, headaches, muscle and joint pains, nausea, vomiting, diarrheoa, stomach pain and weight loss.
As patient gets worse and the diseases progresses, symptoms may include; Dark urine, altered mental status, [dizziness, drowsiness], light coloured stools, itching, hives and internal bleeding.
As deadly as the different types of hepatitis is ,it is worrying to see that not many people are aware of this infection or that they may have contracted the virus.
PREVENTION-The key to avoiding this disease is prevention;
Hepatitis A- Avoid eating unwashed and raw food and unclean water, avoid eating raw /uncooked shell foods, regular hand washing especially after using the toilets, avoid sharing personal items with people who may be infected ,get a vaccine for Hepatitis A if you travel to places where hepatitis may be endemic.
Avoid anal-oral sex as it may put you at risk, also the habit of persons digging their unwashed hand into bags of ice to serve you drinks at functions may be a risk.
Hepatitis B, C-hepatitis B and C can spread through; Unprotected sex, Mother to child during child birth, unscreened blood, surgical operations and dental works, contact sports, body piercings and tattoos, contact with blood/body fluids as with health workers- laboratory workers and students [medical students, biochemistry, medical lab technology students]. So individuals must be mindful of taking measures to protect themselves from such.
Vaccination is also of paramount importance especially for these categories at risk.
If you think you have symptoms consistent with this disease, or you might have been at risk, then get tested or consult your doctor for screening and evaluation, and further treatment plan will be discussed if necessary.

Contact Dr Maxwell
on 3631807/7575411 or
maxwelladeyemi@hotmail.com

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