Viral Hepatitis: Lifestyle measures and precautions to prevent liver damage | Health

Liver diseases are quite prone these days as some patients inherit it genetically and some are caused due to alcohol or over-eating of fatty foods hence, there are several types of viruses that cause hepatitis, including hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. If it is not treated at the right time, myriad liver diseases can be caused such as diabetes, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.

Cystic fibrosis is an example of a genetically inherited disease which has an aversive impact on the organs. These diseases can be prevented by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, avoiding intake of alcohol and following a proper regime and diet as advised by the dietician.

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr K Chandra Kant, Consultant Medical Gastroenterologist at Manipal Hospitals in Vijayawada, revealed, “Viral Hepatitis means damage to the liver which is caused by infectious and non-infectious causes. Infectious causes include hepatitis viruses (A, B, C, D, and E), HSV and CMV. Non-infectious causes include alcohol, drugs like ayurvedic, homoeopathy, anti-tuberculous drugs, Wilson’s disease and autoimmune hepatitis. Hepatitis A and E are usually acute, which the body can recover quickly from but Hepatitis B, C and D can cause both acute and chronic infections. While most patients can recover, various measures can ensure preventing liver damage due to viral hepatitis like early diagnosis and treatments prevent progressive liver damage and liver cancer.”

He suggested, “In terms of lifestyle practices – avoiding alcohol, following a healthy diet and discussing medication and supplements with the doctor (even over the counter drugs) and personal hygiene is key. Additionally, screening of pregnant women, school children, timely vaccination for Hepatitis A and B, vaccination of healthcare workers, use of condoms during sexual activity can help prevent liver damage. Timely screening can help detect early liver cancer. Screening of family members helps in early diagnosis and treatment.”

According to Dr Rajasekhar Perumalla, Senior Hepato Biliary and Liver Transplant Surgeon and Director – Hepatobiliary and Transplant Surgery at Kamineni Hospitals in Hyderabad, “It is advisable to get the diseases diagnosed at an early stage with proper screening tests to assess liver function and wellness. Hepatitis B and C are caused at high-risk populations, early detection and the right medication can prevent them. Hepatitis A and B are preventable with the help of a vaccine.”

He listed some tips on lifestyle measures and precautions to prevent liver damage due to Viral Hepatitis:

1. Ensure clean drink water – Make sure the water is clean. Installing water purifiers with UV, RO and/or mechanical filtration, utilising candle-type filters is preferable to doing so alone. Candle filters are inbuilt in most commercially available water purifiers. Apartment complexes which rely on bore well source should install additional candle filter. It is recommended to utilise bottled mineral water from reputable retailers and established brands while travelling.

2. Steer clear of roadside food stands, especially those selling milkshakes and juice.

3. Barbershops and beauty parlours – If razor blades are not disposable or are not properly sterilised, sharing of razor blades and metal scrappers used to remove black heads and white heads from face skin can act as a source of infection.

4. Hepatitis B and HCV are more frequently transmitted sexually than HCV. Hence, safe sexual behaviours are to be observed.

5. Intravenous drug use (IVDU) is becoming more and more common on Indian college campuses. Sharing needles occurs frequently when the person is not fully awake. Inform your children about the risk.

6. Hepatitis A and B are prevented via vaccination. Hepatitis B-induced liver cancer is the only cancer that is prevented by vaccination.

7. Early detection of silent long-term persistence can be done with HBV and HCV screening. Both of these viruses that cause liver cancer and cirrhosis are treatable effectively.

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