Busting Hepatitis Myths: Unveiling the truth about a worldwide disaster

Dr. Amruthesh T.M, Senior Consultant – Gastroenterology, Sakra World Hospital, Bengaluru

Addressing health myths, particularly those related to hepatitis, is imperative in the current climate of misinformation and disinformation. Despite its widespread prevalence, hepatitis continues to be a poorly recognised disease. Hepatitis demands our attention and understanding. Let’s dispel some common misconceptions and expose the truth.

Shredding light on Hepatitis – the Global Burden

Many factors, such as alcohol, viral infections, autoimmune reactions, and chemical exposure, can cause hepatitis, an inflammatory condition of the liver. Viruses Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E, have a significant impact on the global incidence of the disease.

Hepatitis is a secret pandemic that is destroying people’s lives and the health systems of the world. Contributing to this disaster are chronic hepatitis B and C, which cause liver damage and increase healthcare costs. It indicates serious health problems and is disproportionately present in low- and middle-income countries. On the other side Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is becoming a new pandemic due to fast food, high-calorie diet, sedentary lifestyle, and genetic predisposition.

Discussing approximately the myths and facts of the Hepatitis Virus

By means of debunking myths, instructing most people, and disseminating accurate data, we will empower people to make knowledgeable selections regarding prevention, analysis, and treatment.

Myth 1: One of the more unusual misconceptions about hepatitis is that it is largely a genetic disease that can be passed from diagnosis to child, as with various genetic disorders.

Fact: Vertical transmission of certain viral hepatitis such as hepatitis B and C can occur when an infected mother gives birth to a young child who then becomes infected. In such cases, a young child can also become infected with the virus during birth and become chronically infected. Hepatitis B and C often spread through contact with infected needles, contaminated blood, or through unsafe sexual practices, although vertical transmission can also occur.

There are certain liver diseases in children that happen due to genetic defects causing Glycogen/lipid storage disorder, Familial cholestatic diseases, Copper storage disorder (Wilson’s disease), etc.

Myth 2: It is very encouraging that people with hepatitis avoid consuming all fats and oils.

Fact: It is a common misconception that people with hepatitis should stay away from all types of dietary fat and oil. Unnecessary dietary restrictions will add to unusual weight loss in these patients where hepatitis itself is a highly catabolic state which will be causing weight loss and loss of appetite. While it is important to stay away from saturated and trans fats, it is very important to get high fat from foods like avocados and almonds in addition to olive oil. For people with hepatitis, this diet plan is very effective, and vegetables, low in lean proteins, plenty of whole grains, and coffee with saturated and trans fats help maintain liver health and normal well-being.

Myth 3: Only heavy intravenous drug users or people who drink too much alcohol can get hepatitis.

Fact: Hepatitis B and C spread through contact with infected blood and body fluids, which is more common in intravenous drug abusers and tattoo centres not following safe procedures. All people are susceptible to hepatitis, regardless of drug or alcohol use. Healthcare personnel are also at high risk as they will be handling the infected patients. Practicing safe sexual behaviors, alcohol consumption within permitted limits, vaccination against hepatitis A and B, and following contamination-handling strategies are all part of prevention.

Myth 4: There is an established treatment for all types of hepatitis.

Fact: Hepatitis A and E often go away on their own in 90 to 97% of cases. While hepatitis C can be effectively treated by direct exposure to antiviral capsules, hepatitis B can be best controlled but not completely eliminated. Autoimmune hepatitis can be effectively treated with corticosteroids and immunosuppressive medications. There are many exclusive treatment options, so discussion with medical experts is crucial to choosing the right medication for each form of hepatitis.

Myth 5: Drinking coffee has been linked to deteriorating hepatitis conditions.

Fact: On the contrary due to its many benefits, moderate consumption of coffee can have preventive benefits against non-alcoholic fatty liver disease progression.