Hepatitis is a common name when it comes to diseases among Indian population. However, thanks to the myths doing rounds about the disease, the general population remains confused about the causes and precautions of this disease. On the wake of 4 percent of the Indian population affected by Hepatitis, Dr Lakshmana Kumar, Gastroenterologist, Columbia Asia Hospital, Hebbal points out the 10 most common myths about the disease.
2. All viral hepatitis infections are spread in the same manner.
FACT: Hepatitis A and Hepatitis E are spread by eating food or drinking water contaminated with the virus. One can also get these viruses by touching objects with virus on it. But, Hepatitis B and C are spread through direct contact with infected blood or body fluid.
3. Hepatitis A is more severe in childhood.
FACT: No. Most deaths from acute hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection occur in people older than 50 years and/or with chronic liver disease.
4. Hepatitis B vaccines will prevent people infected with Hepatitis B virus from getting sick.
FACT: Vaccination can prevent Hepatitis B, but only to those people who are not affected by the virus already.
5. There is no treatment available for Hepatitis B infection.
FACT: The disease is not curable, but it is manageable. Chronic HBV can be treated with a number of effective medications that can suppress, slow or reverse the liver disease. All chronically infected patients need life-long monitoring.
6. Patients from countries with high HBV prevalence can wait until the age of 40 before getting screened.
FACT: Any patient from a high-risk region of world, including the Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe, India and Africa, should be screened immediately. They can have the virus active in their liver since birth or early childhood, which could convert to active liver disease at any age.
7. Casual contacts can spread Hepatitis B and C infections.
FACT: A hug, kiss or casual physical contact does not spread Hepatitis B and C infections. It is mostly spread through direct contact with the blood or body fluid of a person infected with those viruses or being born to a mother with Hepatitis C.
8. Hepatitis B and C symptoms show right away.
FACT: These Hepatitis viruses can be inactive in the body for years and not show any prevalent symptoms. About 70-80 percent patients with acute Hepatitis C have no noticeable symptoms.
9. One can use vaccination to prevent Hepatitis C.
FACT: There is no vaccination available for Hepatitis C but there are vaccines available for Hepatitis A and B. These vaccinations are generally recommended by doctors to prevent further damage.
10. Acute Hepatitis B always progresses to chronic HBV infection
FACT: Approximately 90% of infected infants will develop chronic infection. The risk reduces as a child gets older, and 25–50% of children infected between the ages of 1 and 5 years will develop chronic hepatitis. The risk drops to 6–10% when a person is infected over 5 years of age. World-wide, most people with chronic Hepatitis B are infected at birth or during early childhood.