Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, which can affect any individual of any age group including children. Viral hepatitis is caused by hepatitis A virus (HAV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV). In addition to this, hepatitis D and E are other types of viral infections.
What are the Causes?
- Toxic substances (alcohol, certain drugs)
- Autoimmune diseases
- Metabolic disorders
- Infected injections
- Usage of drug-injection equipment
In India, it is anticipated that hepatitis C infection is more than six times that of HIV infection. The World Health Organisation, has termed the HCV as a viral time bomb, which indicates the policy makers must pay attention towards the health issue.
Hepatitis A- What you Should Know?
Hepatitis A is prevalent in children and is spread by fecal-oral contact or fecal-infected food and water. Generally, a baby will get Hepatitis A by having food or water contaminated with HAV-infected stool. Even parents might not recognize that their child has caught the disease since hepatitis A can be a mild infection.
Symptoms of Hepatitis A
- Loss of appetite
- Dark-colored urine
- Abdominal discomfort
Usually, Hepatitis A can cause mild illness but it can result in lasting illness for a maximum period of six months.
Hepatitis B- What you Should Know?
Hepatitis B virus is transmitted by contact with blood and other body fluids of an infected person. Infants may get hepatitis B if they are born to a mother having virus. On the other hand, in adults it can spread through unprotected sex with a person infected with HIV and sharing of contaminated needles or syringes for injecting drugs.
Symptoms of Hepatitis B
- Mild illness
- Chronic liver disease including liver failure
- Loss of appetite
Hepatitis-infected women while giving birth should ensure that their newborns get both the hepatitis B vaccine and an injection of immune globulin, which contains antibodies against the virus. Additionally, babies should be tested at around 9 to 15 months old to ensure that the vaccinations are working.
Hepatitis C- What you Should Know?
Hepatitis C virus is most prevalent in adults than in children. The virus is spread through direct contact with human blood and other body fluids. There is a scope for a baby to get hepatitis C from mother. Adults can get this virus through either sexual contact with an infected person or intravenous drug usage.
Symptoms of Hepatitis C
You can notice mild symptoms and sometimes children often show no symptoms at all. Therefore, parents will know about the disease at the later stage.
This virus can result in chronic liver disease in most people. It is believed that HCV is the leading cause for liver transplantation in adults. Chronic infection might sometimes develop cancer.
Hepatitis can be diagnosed through blood tests. You will be asked for liver function tests to determine the extent of the damage. CT scans and MRI are the other tests and diagnostic procedures to define the degree of infection.
Preventing Hepatitis Virus Infection
Good hygienic practice can help prevent the risk of getting as well as transmitting hepatitis. Other preventive measures include:
Vaccinations-Taking HAV and HBV vaccinations can help prevent the problem but there’s no vaccine for HCV.
WHO recommends vaccinating children against hepatitis B infection. The vaccine should be given as soon as after birth, mostly within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the vaccine series.
And, Blood transfusion can also lower the risk of infection.