World Hepatitis Day 2020: Causes, symptoms, treatment of the liver disease

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), liver ailments are the 10th most common cause of deaths in India. The liver is the largest organ in the human body whose “main job is to filter the blood coming from the digestive tract, before passing it to the rest of the body. The liver also detoxifies chemicals and metabolises drugs. As it does so, the liver secretes bile that ends up back in the intestines. The liver also makes proteins important for blood clotting and other functions,” explains

Lifestyle diseases like diabetes and obesity have a profound impact on the liver. It may lead to fatty lever disease which further leads to liver dysfunction and liver cirrhosis.

If you have already been diagnosed with diabetes or high cholesterol, it is imperative that it be controlled to lead a healthy lifestyle. High blood sugar is one of the causes of liver damage too.

July 28 is World Hepatitis Day and the 2020 theme, Hepatitis-free future, with a strong focus on preventing hepatitis B among mothers and newborns, and spreading awareness about the disease amid Covid-19 pandemic.

”Worldwide, 290 million people are living with viral hepatitis unaware. Without finding the undiagnosed and linking them to care, millions will continue to suffer, and lives will be lost.” says the official World Hepatitis Day website.

Types of Hepatitis

Viral hepatitis, be it Type A, B, C, D and E are a group of diseases that affect the liver. WHO says that, “Together, hepatitis B and C are the most common cause of deaths, with 1.3 million lives lost each year. Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, viral hepatitis continues to claim thousands of lives every day.”

The Indian Society for Clinical Research (ISCR) in a 2016 report says that Hepatitis C, a contagious infection of the liver, affects about 12 million people in the country.

Symptoms of the disease are hard to detect as there may be no symptoms at all sometimes or can also be confused with the common flu. However, if you see signs of fatigue, mild fever, muscle pain, loss of appetite, light-coloured stools, nausea and vomiting, it is advisable to seek medical help at the earliest. Not seeking appropriate treatment at the right time might lead to liver cirrhosis or scarring, and eventually liver cancer.

Some need-to-know facts

* Live and eat healthy. Avoid excessive fried or junk food.

* Avoid alcohol as it is toxic to the liver if consumed in large quantities. In moderation and with a healthy lifestyle, it might pose no problems.

* Carcinogenic elements present in cigarettes might pose a threat too. This might also put passive smokers at high risk as well.

The WHO will also be publishing new recommendations on the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of the virus today.

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