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Hepatitis type‚ determined by lab tests

  

DR RANJEET S BARAL

I am a 17-year-old boy with beta thalassemia major. I had contracted HCV and possibly hepatitis B as well through a transfusion several months back.

My hepatitis was not known several months ago when I developed serious jaundice. Though the jaundice is now cured, I have the burden of HCV. The quantifying test showed moderate virus presence. But because of all my other conditions, the virus is really taking a toll and my frequency of transfusion has upped from one unit of blood every 12 days to two units every 15 days.

Fearing the side effects of the antiviral, I have opted for ayurvedic remedies instead. Recently I found a case of hepatitis C and hepatitis B being cured by taking Shark Cartilage, Liv-C, Liv-Guard and MSM. I also found that shark cartilage is not recommended for adolescents but since I have calcium deficiency, the cartilage would not cause a calcium overload.

Please provide me with helpful suggestion on what should I do next.

• Anonymous


First and foremost, I would like to clear the readers on what are the basic differences between hepatitis A, B, and C. Of course, Thalassemia major is a disease entity by itself, which is an inherited disorder of haemoglobin synthesis. Thus, one suffers from anaemia, spleen enlargement et cetera. Treatments include transfusion, spleen removal, chelation (method to remove toxic substances from one’s system) and lately, stem cell transplantation.

Hepatitis on the other hand is an inflammation of the liver. It may be caused by drugs, alcohol use, or certain medical conditions. But in most cases, it’s caused by a virus that infects the liver. This is known as viral hepatitis, and the most common forms are hepatitis A, B, and C. Other causes of hepatitis include recreational drugs and prescription medications. Hepatitis type is determined by laboratory tests.

Sometimes there are no symptoms of hepatitis in the first weeks after infection — the acute phase. But when they occur, the symptoms of hepatitis A, B, and C may include fatigue, nausea, poor appetite, belly pain, a mild fever, or yellow skin or eyes (jaundice.) When hepatitis B and C become chronic, they may cause no symptoms for years. By the time there are any warning sign, the liver may already be damaged.

Many adults who get hepatitis B have mild symptoms for a short time and then get better on their own. But some people are not able to clear the hepatitis B virus from the body, which causes a long-term infection.

You can get hepatitis B through contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person. It’s also possible to get hepatitis B by sharing an infected person’s needles, razors, or toothbrush. And an infected mother can pass the virus to her baby during childbirth.

About 25 per cent of people who get hepatitis C defeat the virus after an acute infection. Hepatitis C spreads through infected blood. A mother may pass the virus to her child at birth. In rare cases, unprotected sex spreads hepatitis C, but the risk appears small. Having multiple sex partners, HIV, or rough sex seems to increase risk for spreading hepatitis C.

People who received a blood transfusion like in your case also have an elevated risk because not all centres for blood donation were screened for hepatitis C till few years ago. Unless the infection is diagnosed, monitored, and treated, many of these people will eventually develop serious liver damage.

If you test positive for viral hepatitis, you can take steps to protect the ones you love. For hepatitis B and C, avoid sharing your nail clippers, razor, or toothbrush. Make sure everyone in your household gets the hepatitis B vaccine. Hepatitis B is not spread by hugging, sharing food, or coughing.

The goal of treating chronic hepatitis B is to control the virus and keep it from damaging the liver. This begins with regular monitoring for signs of liver disease. Antiviral medications may help, but be sure to discuss the risks and benefits of antiviral therapy with your doctor.

Your doctor will order regular blood tests to check how well your liver is working. Ultrasounds and CT scans can also reveal signs of liver damage. If the virus is not causing any liver problems, you may not need treatment. But it’s important to have regular tests to watch for changes. Complications are easiest to treat when found early.

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