‘Liver’ worthwhile life – World Hepatitis Day
“Liver disease is a serious public health issue with the consumption of alcohol becoming a household problem globally. Diseases such as hepatitis are often referred to as ‘silent diseases’ because liver damage can gradually occur over many years before being discovered, which often happens once the damage is irreparable. Nationally, hepatitis B and C are major causes of liver cancer, liver transplantation and even death”.
On the occasion of World Hepititis Day, observed on 28 July, Dr. Tarun Gupta, Gastroenterologist, Hinduja HealthCare Surgical gives us some insight on this condition and provides basic information for combating the condition successfully.
What is hepatitis?
Hepatitis is swelling and inflammation of the liver. It is a condition often caused by viral infection of the liver. It may also be due to non-infective causes like excess alcohol intake or other metabolic causes.
What are the causes of hepatitis?
There are different sources from which this condition arises:
a) Immune cells in the body attacking the liver and causing autoimmune hepatitis.
b) Infections from viruses (such as hepatitis A, B, or C), bacteria, or parasites.
c) Liver damage from alcohol, poisonous mushrooms, or other poisons.
d) Medications, such as an overdose of acetaminophen, which can be deadly.
Can such a condition be caused by inherited disorders?
Liver disease can also be caused by inherited disorders such as Wilson disease, alpha-1antitrypsin deficiency or hemochromatosis, a condition that involves having too much iron in your body (the excess iron deposits in the liver)
What are the symptoms of hepatitis?
The symptoms of hepatitis include:
Abdominal pain or distention breast development in male
Dark urine and pale or clay-colored stools
Fever, usually low-grade
Jaundice (yellowish discoloration of the skin or eyes)
Loss of appetite
Nausea and vomiting
How long does one take to recover from hepatitis? What are its long term effects?
Hepatitis may start and get better quickly (acute hepatitis), or cause long-term disease (chronic hepatitis). In some instances, it may lead to liver damage, liver failure, or even liver cancer.
The severity of hepatitis depends on many factors, including the cause of liver damage and any illnesses you have. Hepatitis A, for example, is usually short-term and does not lead to chronic liver problems.
What kind of tests or examinations must one go through while suffering from this condition?
A physical examination may show:
Enlarged and tender liver
Fluid in the abdomen (ascites) that can become infected
Yellowish discoloration of the skin
However, a doctor may order laboratory tests to diagnose and monitor the hepatitis, including:
Liver function tests
Hepatitis virus serologies
Autoimmune blood markers
Liver biopsy to check for liver damage
Paracentesis if fluid is in your abdomen
In this nutrition centric world, what kind of food can a person with hepatitis consume and what must they avoid?
Your doctor will discuss possible treatments with you, depending on the cause of your liver disease. The doctor may recommend a high-calorie diet if you are losing weight.
One must also avoid consuming the following food:
Caffeine – colas, chocolate, coffee, some teas, OTC meds.
White flour unless it is organic or bleached
Dairy products (animal) – yogurt however can be consumed
Fruit juices – high in concentration juices
Artificial sweeteners (use liquid stevia instead)