Hepatitis simply means inflammation (swelling) in the liver. It is a common medical condition in Nigeria. It is spread through sexual intercourse as well as through blood transfusion. It can be prevented by Vaccination. The Hepatitis Vaccine was introduced into the NPI in 2004.
They are different types of Hepatitis, such as Acute or Chronic Hepatitis.
Causes of Hepatitis
This inflammation or swelling in the liver can be caused by a number of factors such as;
Infections: usually caused by viruses known as the Hepatitis viruses. They are 5 common types (A-E). They are other viral & non-viral causes, but these are the most important.
Alcohol: Excessive intake of alcohol can lead to a number of liver diseases, one of them being hepatitis.
Drugs: medication abuse is fast becoming one of the commonest causes of hepatitis. Paracetamol is one of the commonest drugs of abuse.
The liver is responsible for the removal of drugs from the body, and abuse of drugs causes poisoning which leads to liver damage. Herbal medications in our environment are another cause.
Toxins: an example is found in mushrooms, aflatoxin (seen in rotten groundnuts).
Other causes are; Metabolic, Autoimmune, Radiation.
These are viruses that primarily affect the liver but can involve many other organs
Hepatitis A virus (HAV):
Transmission is through the mouth, from foods.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV):
This is the worst of the Hepatitis viruses. Transmission is through the blood (transfusions, sharing sharp objects, tattoos, etc), sexual intercourse & from mother to child during delivery.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV):
Transmission is similar to that of HBV.
Hepatitis D virus (HDV):
usually transmitted with HBV.
Hepatitis E virus (HEV):
Transmission is through the mouth, especially
Symptoms of Hepatitis
Individuals with inflammation (swelling) of the liver tissues would have;
- Tiredness, nausea,
- fever, joint pain, vomiting,
- Abdominal pain or swelling.
- later: dark urine, yellowing of the eyes, itching.
Anyone with possible cases of Hepatitis should see a doctor. It is a very serious infection and currently, there is no cure, but the good news is that it is easy to prevent. Treatment modalities include;
- Remove offending agents (like alcohol, drugs, etc) if possible.
- An adequate protein diet is encouraged.
- Avoid alcohol, sedatives, hypnotics,
- IV fluids may be necessary for people who are quite ill.
- Drugs: such as Antiviral agents (interferon, lamivudine, etc), Steriods, immunosuppressants (for autoimmune cases)
Prevention of Hepatitis
- Minimize alcoholic beverages
- Proper screening of blood & blood products before transfusion
- Use of sterile needles
- Observe standard universal precautions at all times.
- Avoid Unsafe sexual habits
- Proper hygiene (oral)
- Avoid the use of local herbal concoctions
- Immunization/Vaccination: against Hepatitis B virus. The Vaccine was introduced into the Nigerian National Programme of immunization (NPI) in the year 2004. Hence, anyone born before the year 2004 should endeavor to get tested and take the vaccine.
Spread the message & awareness.
Hepatitis is preventable.