Viral hepatitis: between myth and reality

What are the prevailing beliefs that lead to unnecessary or wrongful behavior during viral hepatitis?

July 28 is World Opposition Day hepatitis viral. The date was chosen because it coincides with the birthday of Dr. Baruch Samuel Bloomberg, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his discovery of the hepatitis B virus.

Over the years, advances in medical knowledge have debunked many of the myths surrounding this. hepatitis. However, some of them are still valid in our population.

It turns out that the virus hepatitis They are named after the first 5 letters of the alphabet: A, B, C, D, and E, and have distinct characteristics that allow the identification of 5 different infections. Different routes of infection may vary. A significant portion of the virus can remain in the body for years, with complications such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. Some hepatitis requires special treatment, while others go away on their own. They don’t always show symptoms, and some of them can be prevented with vaccines.

Hepatitis A

The way this virus spreads is fecal-oral route. Water contaminated with the feces of an infected person is usually the source of transmission. Until 2005, this was the most common viral hepatitis, especially in childhood, and was the main indication for liver transplantation in children in Argentina.

By that year, the number of cases had plummeted to today’s exceptional levels, thanks to mandatory vaccination of children and improvements in sewage systems in various parts of the country. With the exception of rare severe forms, these symptoms usually resolve without treatment, and the virus never causes chronic forms such as cirrhosis or liver cancer.

Hepatitis B

contagious between people, usually due to close contact with mucous membranes (eg: sexual contact), close contact with blood or any fluid of an infected person (sharing needles, hemodialysis, blood transfusion, etc.). Although vertical transmission during pregnancy is possible, adequate serological control of expectant mothers makes it unlikely in our setting. The clinical situation is slightly more complicated and depends on each individual’s immune response to the virus entering the liver.

With an optimal defense system in place (95% of cases), infected liver cells are destroyed in a balanced manner, causing inflammation of the liver, resulting in yellowish skin (jaundice), dark urine, and severe fatigue that persists without Treatment, about 20 days can be self-healing.

If the defense system is very aggressive (only 1% of cases), too many liver cells may be destroyed and cause severe fulminant hepatitis, which may require urgent liver transplantation. If the defense system is weak (4% of cases), the virus cannot be eliminated from the liver cells, where the virus will multiply silently. Over the years, this continued viral replication causes progressive damage and may develop into cirrhosis. Liver cancer can be added to a liver with installed cirrhosis. In these cases, oral antiviral drugs that inhibit viral replication and prevent the progression of cirrhosis and its complications can be used.

There is a highly effective vaccine to prevent hepatitis my country has included newborns in the national calendar since 2000, and recommends including adults in risk groups.

Hepatitis C

The virus is mainly spread by cexposure to blood or contaminated fluids (blood transfusions, intravenous drug addiction, etc.). Infection by mucosal contact and vertical transmission during pregnancy is much less common than with B virus.

inside hepatitis In 85% of cases, the virus infects individuals silently, without symptoms. It usually remains in the body for many years and can cause cirrhosis of the liver in 30% of infected people. In these cases, the disease is often symptomatic and may be complicated by liver cancer. Modern oral treatments can eradicate more than 95% of infections, even in people with cirrhosis. Indications for liver transplantation should be considered in cases of treatment-failure cirrhosis and in cases that develop non-advanced HCC.

Unfortunately, there is currently no vaccine for this disease hepatitis.

Due to the silent nature of this entity, an estimated 50% of people with the virus in our country do not know they are infected. Therefore, it is very important to have a serological test at least once in a lifetime.

Hepatitis D

this virus needs B virus to infect a person. The two are transmitted together, or the D virus is added to someone who already has hepatitis B.

This contagion is almost entirely caused by intravenous drug addiction. This situation is very rare in our country, and there is no specific vaccine against this virus.

Hepatitis E

The virus shares some similarities with hepatitis A and is also spread virally.fecal-oral route, Usually a product from an infected animal (pig). The infection is usually not serious, except in pregnant women and people with liver disease. They resolve on their own without treatment, and there is a vaccine against the virus.

bust some myths

Popular beliefs can sometimes create anxiety and, in the process, trigger unnecessary or wrong behavior. hepatitis viral.

they don’t heal by rest Climbing stairs, brisk walking, or lifting heavy objects does not make symptoms worse. People with hepatitis should rest as their body needs. Physical activity is not recommended because, in general, the fatigue associated with the symptom picture reduces pleasure and performance.

no meals thereby aggravating hepatitis. Symptomatic people usually experience symptoms such as nausea and loss of appetite, so it is recommended to avoid foods with high fat content, so as not to hinder digestion. However, it is necessary to avoid alcohol.

Once acute viral hepatitis is over, Liver without sequelae, and become sensitive to certain foods. Digestive symptoms associated with consuming certain foods are often caused by disorders of other organs, such as the stomach or intestines, and deserve research to determine their origin and develop treatments.

Reporting and Testing

On Friday, August 4th, from 10 am to 4 pm, Plaza San Martin, Rosario will host an event related to viral hepatitis prevention and awareness in the community, organized by the group “Hepatitis Rosario”.

There, the general public will be provided with the necessary information and free testing for the hepatitis C virus will be provided.

In addition, the Argentine Society of Hepatology (SAHe) and the National Ministry of Health carried out similar activities throughout the country during July and August.

The goal of all these activities coincides with the World Health Organization’s declared goal of eradicating hepatitis from humanity by 2030.

Dr. Sebastian Ferretti. Sanatorio Parque Department of Hepatology and Liver Transplantation.President of the Argentine Society of Hepatology

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