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Find the missing millions...

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By Z. K
Tue, 07, 20

Hepatitis is a common disease that inflames the liver. To date, there are at least five different known types of viral hepatitis: A, B, C, D and E.....

world hepatitis day

The liver is the powerhouse of the body. It is the second largest organ and helps with many vital functions. When our liver is unhealthy, it affects our entire body, even your immune system, which helps you fight disease. Hepatitis is a common disease that inflames the liver. To date, there are at least five different known types of viral hepatitis: A, B, C, D and E.

Symptoms of acute viral hepatitis include fatigue, flu-like symptoms, dark urine, light-coloured stools, fever, and jaundice; however, acute viral hepatitis may occur with minimal symptoms that go unrecognized.

Hepatitis A: This type won't lead to long-term infection and usually doesn't cause any complications. Your liver heals in about 2 months. You can prevent it with a vaccine. You get it from eating or drinking something that's got the virus in it.

Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is transmitted through exposure to infective blood, semen, contaminated injections during medical procedures, and through injection drug use. HBV can be transmitted from infected mothers to infants. Most people recover from this type in 6 months.

Sometimes, though, it causes a long-term infection that could lead to liver damage. Safe and effective vaccines are available to prevent HBV.

Hepatitis C: Hepatitis C is most commonly spread by exposure to contaminated blood or needles. Many people with this type don't have any symptoms, a blood test is needed for diagnosis. About 80% of those with the disease get a long-term infection. It can sometimes lead to cirrhosis, a scarring of the liver. There's no vaccine to prevent it.

Hepatitis D: People with hepatitis B often develop hepatitis D, which is spread through contaminated blood products and unprotected sex with a person who has the disease. Hepatitis D, known as ‘delta hepatitis’, can result in a more serious disease and worse outcome.

Hepatitis E: Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is mostly transmitted through consumption of contaminated water or food. HEV is found in underdeveloped areas of the world and is spread by the fecal-oral route. Hepatitis E causes acute hepatitis, which usually goes away on its own.

Protect your liver with a healthy diet

People with hepatitis need to follow a healthy lifestyle to minimize damage to the liver. A person with hepatitis just needs to follow a healthy, well-balanced diet. The diet should include foods that are easy on the liver and exclude foods that cause the liver to work harder as this can delay a patient’s recovery from the disease.

There are plenty of healthy options which are both beneficial for the liver and for the recovery process.

Whole grains: They are beneficial to consume as part of a healthy diet. These can be in the form of bran, whole wheat bread or cereal, brown rice, whole grain pasta or porridge. Include other whole grains such as whole oats, wild rice, rye, oatmeal and corn.

Fruits and vegetables: Should be a significant part of any diet to help in recovering from a liver disease. They are full of essential nutrients and are easy to digest. As a bonus, they also contain antioxidants, which can protect the liver cells from damage.

Oils: Olive oil, canola oil and flaxseed oil are all healthy fats that are recommended as part of a diet for patients with Hepatitis.

Healthy proteins: Healthy proteins in the form of low-fat milk and dairy products along with lean meats, beans, eggs and soy products can also be a part of a healthy liver diet.

Drink water: You also need to make sure you drink plenty of fluids. Water is better than caffeinated drinks like coffee and cola.

Foods to avoid: Sugar intake should be limited for a healthy liver. This includes all artificial sweeteners as well as fruits juices. Hepatitis patients should also severely limit their salt intake. Also refrain from eating high-sodium foods. When on a Hepatitis diet, avoid eating meat especially red meats due to their high sodium content. If you must, stick to lean cuts and eat only once or twice a week. Keep in mind that an unhealthy diet can contribute to liver damage. If you eat too much high-calorie greasy, fatty, or sugary food, you'll gain weight and fat will begin to build up in your liver. A ‘fatty liver’ can contribute to developing cirrhosis, or scarring, of the liver.

World Hepatitis Day

World Hepatitis Day (WHD) takes places every year on 28 July and brings the world together under a single theme to raise awareness of the global burden of viral hepatitis and to influence real change. WHD presents an opportunity to join together and raise the profile of viral hepatitis among the public, the world’s media and on the global health agenda. It’s also an opportunity for us to increase awareness and encourage a real political change to jointly facilitate prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

In 2020 the theme is 'Find the Missing Millions'. Worldwide, 290 million people are living with viral hepatitis unaware. Without finding the undiagnosed and linking them to care, millions will continue to suffer, and lives will be lost. “On World Hepatitis Day, 28 July, we call on people from across the world to take action and raise awareness to find the ‘missing millions’,” says an official statement.

World Hepatitis Day is recognised on the birthday of Dr. Baruch Blumberg (July 28, 1925-April 5, 2011) who discovered hepatitis B and developed the first vaccine for it.

World Hepatitis Day is now recognised in over 100 countries through events such as free screenings, poster campaigns, demonstrations, concerts, talk shows, flash mobs and vaccination drives, amongst many others. Low coverage of testing and treatment is the most important gap to be addressed in order to achieve the global elimination goals by 2030.