Hepatitis

I was reading The Straits Times dated 21 August 2018, when this big headline captures my attention – Hepatitis: The ‘Silent Killer‘.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Hepatitis contributes to the highest number of deaths compared to major infectious diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.

The reason why it is called a silent killer is because patients, can go decades without feeling sick and exhibiting any symptoms, until the infection becomes chronic leading to serious complications.  And at the same time, the virus can be spread to others.

Out of curiosity, I started to read on the differences between Hepatitis A, B and C.

What is hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a viral liver disease caused by hepatitis A virus.  The infection is associated with poor sanitation and hygiene.  

It is transmitted through ingestion of food or water that is contaminated with faeces of an infected person. Majority will recover from HAV (Hepatitis A Virus).

Unlike hepatitis B and C, hepatitis A infection does not cause chronic liver disease and is rarely fatal.  There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A and recovery from symptoms following infection could be slow taking several weeks or months.

What is hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a virus that affects the liver.  It can be passed from person to person and can be transmitted through contact with infected blood or bodily fluid such as through sexual contact, use of non-sterile instruments that is in contact with infected blood (example razors, toothbrushes, razors and needles).

Hepatitis B if untreated, can be lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Hepatitis B can be prevented with a vaccine.

What is hepatitis C

Hepatitis C (HCV) is also a virus that affects the liver.  It is carried in the blood and is highly infectious, spreading from person to person through blood.  Good news is around 30% of those infected will be cleared of the virus within 6 months by their immune system.  Those who do not clear the virus will have chronic hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C can be treated by direct-acting antiviral drugs.

The key here is, build your immune system. With a strong immune system, your body will be able to develop antibodies to fight the virus.

21 August 2018.

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