ADAKAH KITA BOLEH HAMIL KETIKA...
Celebrated annually on July 28, World Hepatitis Day serves as a platform to increase worldwide consciousness about hepatitis. With an estimated 290 million people worldwide who are living with chronic hepatitis B or C, this silent epidemic has far-reaching consequences for individuals, families and communities alike. In this article, let us recap what are the different types of hepatitis, their mode of transmission, vaccinations and preventive measures available as well as addressing some of the common myths of hepatitis to raise awareness on this pressing public health challenge.
Hepatitis is a medical term used when there is inflammation of the liver. It can be caused by various factors, such as viral infections, alcohol abuse, prolonged use of certain medications, toxins and autoimmune diseases. There are 5 main types of hepatitis virus - A, B, C, D, and E. Hepatitis B and C often lead to chronic disease when detected and together, are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis (end-stage liver disease), liver cancer and viral hepatitis-related deaths.
The liver is a vital organ that is in charge of numerous essential functions in our body such as processing nutrients, filtering harmful substances from blood (detoxification & metabolism), producing bile to aid in digestion and maintaining the body’s internal balance. When the liver becomes inflamed, its normal functions could be impaired and this may lead to a range of symptoms and health complications. The severity of hepatitis may vary, with some cases being mild and short-lived while others may progress to chronic and more severe conditions.
Did you know? Being a leading cause of liver cancer and liver transplants, nearly 40% of people living with hepatitis C do not actually know they are infected. This is concerning as it is also the only hepatitis infection that has no vaccinations yet. However, fret not as hepatitis C has been reported to be curable in more than 95% cases with oral antiviral agents.
Nonetheless, some common signs and symptoms that may suggest hepatitis include:
No. The hepatitis viruses are essentially very different from one another, in terms of their mode of transmission, the impact they bring to different individuals to their effects in infected individuals.
Hepatitis A often makes people feel very ill for only a short period of time and it is also rare that it will result in any kind of serious complications or long-lasting illness.
Hepatitis B on the other hand can be very serious if the affected individual’s initial viral infection progresses to a chronic infection, but the likelihood of that is only in 2-6% adults and some may never exhibit any symptoms during their initial infection.
Meanwhile, Hepatitis C often doesn’t cause symptoms initially but an estimated 60-80% of people with Hepatitis C will often go on to develop a lifelong, chronic infection. This would eventually lead to liver cancer, liver cirrhosis and sometimes even death if left untreated.
Since there are vaccines available for hepatitis A and B, it's advisable for everyone to first check whether they have antibodies against these two conditions, especially higher risk populations such as:
If upon testing you found out your antibodies for hepatitis A and B are below the recommended range, vaccinations would be beneficial.
The mode of administration of hepatitis A vaccine consists of 2 total doses; 1 single dose of vaccine followed by a booster dose that is usually 6-12 months after the first vaccination. Depending on the brand of vaccine used, the booster dose may be extended up to 36 months after. Meanwhile, for hepatitis B vaccination, the regime typically consists of 3 doses of vaccine, 1st dose at 0 month, 2nd dose 1 month later and the 3rd dose at 6 months after the 1st dose. This schedule provides optimal protection by the 7th month and produces high antibody titres.
For combined hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines, a 3-dose series is scheduled at 0th, 1st and 6th month.
Besides, lifestyle modifications like maintaining a balanced diet, limiting alcohol consumption, routine medical check-ups can also monitor liver’s health and detect any potential issues when it is still salvageable. To know more on ways to protect our liver, you may visit our previous article on hepatitis.
Hepatitis is a global health concern. Understanding how it spreads and armed ourselves with preventive measures at all times are the first steps in reducing its impact and reducing its burden so that everyone can enjoy a healthy and hepatitis-free life.
This article is written by Janelle Leong, Bpharm(Hons) (DOC2US),
reviewed by Dr. Lee Siew Ling, MD (DOC2US).
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