‘90% chronic hepatitis patients are asymptomatic’

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Hyderabad– Hepatitis is a condition of severe inflammation of the liver tissues that could even result in fatality, and in almost 90 per cent of the cases, people suffering from chronic hepatitis related ailments do not show symptoms, doctors said.

On the occasion of World Hepatitis Day 2020, they underlined the importance of thorough investigation to reduce the fatalities.

The experts said it is important for people to understand the role of screening in asymptomatic and undiagnosed hepatitis patients with possible chronic conditions.

There are two groups of hepatitis patients. One category, particularly in the case of Hepatitis-B, remains carriers for many years with a small risk of reactivation of the virus in due course. In Hepatitis-C, the low-grade chronic infection will lead to chronic liver disease and cirrhosis in later years.

There is another group of patients who may not have diagnosed with hepatitis but maybe at the risk of developing sudden reactivation of hepatitis.

“Many people wonder if they do not have any signs and symptoms of liver damage like jaundice, abdominal swelling or abnormal blood test, then why they should undergo screening. With chronic hepatitis, there is a phase in the disease where the patients can be normal, without any symptoms and their blood tests also maybe normal.

However, they may have chronic low-grade viral infection in the liver, which would necessitate urgent attention,” said Santosh Kumar Enaganti, Senior Consultant Medical Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist at Continental Hospitals.

Those newly diagnosed with a condition such as lymphoma or cancer where they require chemotherapy are at enhanced risk. Chemotherapy results in immune suppression, which leads to reactivation of hepatitis. Hence, it is important that such patients are constantly checked for Hepatitis-B status, as post therapy they may be recovering from the actual problem, but they may suddenly have jaundice and have abnormal liver tests leading to reactivation and liver failure. This will happen more commonly with Hepatitis-B, added Kumar.

Commenting on the Covid-19 pandemic and its relation to hepatitis, V.C. Sudheer, Consultant Gastroenterologist, KIMS Hospitals, Kondapur, said it was noticed that people who contract Covid-19 have increased levels of liver enzymes, indicating a potential threat.

“However, a timely assessment and suggested medications will help one overcome the risks. Seeking constant help from doctors, even if it means in the form of remote or tele modes, it is the best to do so. Staying away from indulgences like smoking or vaping are necessary to avoid additional liver injury,” Sudheer said. (IANS)

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