Firstly hepatitis doesn’t mean only viral or infective hepatitis. Hepatitis is inflammation or swelling of liver cells (Hepatocytes). They can be viral or non viral. Some of the non-viral causes of Hepatitis are Alcohol, Fatty Liver, Certain drugs, Auto Immune and many others. Common Viral Hepatitis are Hepatitis A,B,C,D and E. Mostly signs of symptoms of any hepatitis can very and non specific. But patients can complain of tiredness, fever, and pain in right upper abdomen, jaundice and so on.
Viral Hepatitis A and E are generally transmitted through infective food and water. Avoiding such food and water can help in preventing against these type of hepatitis. Hepatitis B and C spread through contaminated blood or through mother to child. So avoiding single syringe for multiple people, blood transfusion from designated blood banks can help in preventing spread of these types of hepatitis. Very effective vaccination is available against hepatitis A and B, which can protect us against these types of disease.
Non-viral hepatitis is actually getting more and more common. We are seeing pandemic of NASH, which is Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis. This disease starts from fatty liver and progress to liver inflammation and may lead to cirrhosis and end stage liver disease. Diabetes, Hypertension, Obesity, Hypercholesterolemia, Hypothyroidism are some of the risk factor associated with NASH. Sedentary lifestyle with increased consumption of processed food has increased the incidence of all these lifestyle disorder. Fortunately or unfortunately control of NASH is in our hands only. Healthy lifestyle, which includes our diet and good exercise, helps in control of fatty liver. Tight control of diabetes, Blood pressure and cholesterol helps in slowing down the progression of NASH.
Other common non-viral causes of hepatitis like alcoholic hepatitis is also preventable. Avoid drinking excess alcohol protects our liver. Some of the drugs prescribed by quacks in name of alternate style of medicine contain heavy metal like lead and mercury, these can damage the liver causing hepatitis and in some rare cases even Acute Liver failure. So it is essential to see only qualified doctors (Allopathy, Ayurveda or Homeopathy).
But sometimes despite all precautions we may still get hepatitis. If you see yellowish eye and skin with or without fever, tiredness and pain in stomach, it is best to see Liver specialist. Lot of these hepatitis if correctly and timely diagnosed can be cured. On World Hepatitis Day, we all should pledge to take care of our liver.