Feature Article of Saturday, 18 July 2015
Columnist: Essel, Kojo Cobba
“Viral Hepatitis can be prevented. It’s up to all of us to act.” – www.worldhepatitisday.org
Hepatitis is a disease of the liver that may occur with little or no symptoms initially but if persists may have disastrous consequences.
Many of us have heard about Hepatitis quite precisely Hepatitis B and it is not surprising since people are screening for Hepatitis B in churches, market places, train stations, fetish shrines and every imaginable and unimaginable place. The most criminal aspect of this is that there is NO PRIOR COUNSELING in many of these situations. Some people in white coats even take advantage of people who test positive for Hepatitis B (the surface antigen) and charge exorbitant fees to “treat” them. I agree it is absolutely important to raise awareness of Hepatitis but it should be done in the right way instead of creating fear and panic. It is also essential to hammer on prevention.
There are many forms of hepatitis but our focus today is on Hepatitis B C; both of which are viral. Another form of viral hepatitis is Hepatitis A, which is acquired in a similar fashion as cholera, it’s infectious and it’s often left undiagnosed. Other forms of viral Hepatitis also exist. Beyond these the liver also faces abuse from medication, herbal preparations, alcohol and even being overweight or living an unhealthy lifestyle.
July 28th is World Hepatitis Day and the focus is once again on Hepatitis B and C. the statistics are mind blowing:
• About 1 in 12 people worldwide is living with Hepatitis B or C
• About 400 million people are thus living with Hepatitis B or C in this small global village
• About 4,000 lives are lost each day to complications from viral hepatitis
Once we do not manage Hepatitis B or C, it can lead to advanced liver scarring as well as complications such as liver failure and liver cancer. With better understanding of the disease and how to prevent Hepatitis we can eliminate most if not all the 1.4 million precious lives that are lost each year to the disease worldwide. What stand will you take for the liver?
Yes, Hepatitis B is common in our Motherland but not everyone is dying from it. Seek early medical advice and in most cases you will live long enough to enjoy fufu and palm nut soup for many more years to come.
An acute episode of Hepatitis B or C, like many viral infections may present as:
• Loss of appetite
These symptoms may be followed by jaundice; an abnormal accumulation of the chemical bilirubin in the blood, which causes yellowing of the eyes, skin and body fluids (such as tears), as well as a darkening of the urine.
This sounds almost like malaria, doesn’t it? So you may be harming your liver if you continue to take medication to treat malaria without seeking medical attention.
Your doctor will request for a few tests that will provide information on the stage of your infection and the state of your liver.
Many professionals will just prescribe:
• Healthy lifestyle
• Avoid medications that have not been prescribed. Even popping paracetamol tablets at the least hint of pain could be dangerous. Avoid herbal preparations.
• Avoid alcohol
• Get adequate rest
A few may add a vitamin but that may simply be a matter of choice. Many people will be able to fight the virus and clear it from their system. A few others will not succeed on their own and may require further monitoring.
We contract Hepatitis B and C through similar routes and these include:
• Unprotected s3xual activity
• Needle sharing (includes drug users)
• Sharing of razors and toothbrushes
• Piercing or tattoos
• Transmission from infected mom to infant at time of delivery
You protect yourself by avoiding the above and also being vaccinated against the virus. You can only be given the vaccine if you test negative for hepatitis B surface antigen.
People with Hepatitis B and C, like those with HIV may look and feel perfectly well but as carriers, they can spread the infection.
Some good news here, you are unlikely to contract Hepatitis B infection from the following:
• Sharing food or drinks
Dear friend to avoid or fight most viral infections the drill remains the same, boost your immunity by:
• Exercising often and appropriately
• Eating a balanced meal and drinking adequate amounts of water
• Getting rest
• Get vaccinated if you test negative.
So from now through July 28th and beyond, do something to raise awareness of Viral Hepatitis and help save lives; it’s up to all of us to act. Talk to someone about Hepatitis B and C and emphasize how it may be prevented.
AS ALWAYS LAUGH OFTEN, WALK AND PRAY EVERYDAY AND REMEMBER IT’S A PRICELESS GIFT TO KNOW YOUR NUMBERS (blood sugar, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, BMI)
Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel
Moms’ Health Club/Health Essentials
*Dr Essel is a medical doctor, holds an MBA and is ISSA certified in exercise therapy and fitness nutrition.
Thought for the week – “PREVENT HEPATITIS; IT’S UP TO YOU!”
• Primed Patient Education Center – Harvard Medical School
• Vijay Shah, MD. Mayo Clinic