Hepatitis is the acute inflammation of the liver as a result of virus infection. The condition can be self-limiting or can progress to liver cancer. Other infections, toxic substances such as alcohol, certain drugs, and autoimmune diseases can also cause hepatitis.
Hepatitis is dangerous because it affects the liver, which is very essential in the body. Liver has a wide range of functions, including: filtering harmful substances from the blood, such as alcohol. It also stores vitamins, proteins and minerals in the body. Liver produces biochemical needed for digestion, maintains proper levels of glucose in the blood, produces body’s cholesterol, stores and decomposes red blood cells, among others.
There are five main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. Types B and C lead to chronic disease in millions of people and, together, are the most common cause of liver cancer. Hepatitis A and E are caused by ingestion of contaminated food or water. Hepatitis B, C and D usually occur as a result of contact with infected body fluids.
Common modes of transmission include receipt of contaminated blood, using contaminated equipment. For Hepatitis B, transmission is usually from mother to baby at birth as well as from family member to child, and also by sexual contact.
The incubation period is variable from two to six weeks. Acute infection may occur with limited or no symptoms. symptoms are jaundice, yellowing of the skin and eyes, dark urine, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain, clay coloured stools, fever, lack of appetite, itching, weight loss and headache
If left untreated and unmanaged, Hepatitis B or C can lead to advanced liver scarring, liver cancer or liver failure. According to statistics, Viral Hepatitis affects 400 million people globally and, given the size of the epidemic, anyone and everyone can be at risk. However, over 90% of people with Hepatitis C can be cured of the virus within three to six months.
To prevent hepatitis, we must Wash our hands with soap after going to the toilet, consume food that has just been cooked, drink clean or boiled water, eat enough fruits and vegetables and get a vaccine for Hepatitis, if you travel to places where Hepatitis may be endemic. People should also practice safe sex, only use clean syringes that have not been used by anyone else, desist from sharing toothbrushes, razors, or manicure instruments and only allow well sterilized skin perforating equipment for tattoo, acupuncture and others. Those who are infected should cover open wounds and go easy on alcohol
It is unfortunate that most of the hepatitis drugs are not manufactured in Nigeria and with a very high foreign exchange rate of currency, the cost of drugs are very prohibitive. Importation of genuine hepatitis drugs is also a mirage as there are only very few pharmaceutical companies that can import and dispense genuine drugs.
Again, people dump refuse along the roads, inside the gutters and at the center of densely populated areas. Residents of such areas breathe and inhale polluted air that contains virus, which in turn causes pathogenic diseases to the people. Such dangerous unhygienic habit results in serious health hazards to them and others.
In such unsanitary conditions, food are prepared and sold to the public, confectioneries, vegetables, and fruits are hawked. Unhygienic and impure drinking water are poured into cellophane, packaged as pure water, chilled and hawked to the public.
Habitual drinking of badly prepared local gin, palm wine and excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages pose bigger dangers to the liver’s inhabitants, which will result in hepatitis.
Thus, the Nation is the ultimate loser in terms of man power loses during sickness, loss of revenue in the provision of therapy and at times resultant loss of lives. Therefore, let us join hands to eliminate hepatitis.