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Hepatitis 101

Hepatitis is a medical condition defined by the inflammation of the liver and characterized by the presence of inflammatory cells in the tissue of the organ. Hepatitis may occur with limited or no symptoms. Often, it leads to yellow discoloration of the skin, mucus membranes, and eyes. Poor appetite is also another symptom of this disease. Since this medical condition is related basically to the liver, we want to see what functions the liver perform in our bodies as humans. The liver is the largest gland in the human body. It weighs approximately 3 lb. (1.36 kg). It is reddish brown in colour and is divided into four lobes of different sizes and lengths. It is also the largest internal organ (the largest organ is the skin).

Functions of the Liver:

Detoxification (filters harmful substances form the blood, such as alcohol)

Stores vitamins A, D, K and B12 (also stores minerals)

Protein synthesis (makes certain amino acids – the building blocks of proteins)

The production of biochemical needed for digestion, such as bile

Maintains proper levels of glucose in the blood

Produces 80% of the body’s cholesterol (cholesterol – HDL is vital)

The storage of glycogen (also converts glucose to glycogen)

Decomposing red blood cells

Synthesizing plasma protein

The production of hormones

Produces urea (the main substance of urine)

Imagine the many and very important functions of the liver. Now think of it that this organ gets diseased, what happens? It is important to know however that its not only Hepatitis that destroys the Liver, other cancers and lifestyle choices do too but the focus on Hepatitis is basically because it has the liver as primary target. Hepatitis being a virus which infects the liver, is present in both the blood and body fluids of infected people. Five types of viruses are commonly responsible for the different types of Hepatitis. These are Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. We shall be discussing Hepatitis B mainly here as it is the most common.

As reported, Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), a major public health problem world¬ wide is more prevalent in the developing countries. More than 2 billion people are infected with HBV world-wide while some 300-350 million are chronic carriers, harbouring the virus in their liver. About 2 million of these carriers die each year as a result of cirrhosis or primary liver cell cancer induced by the virus, now, that’s huge isn’t it?. This virus is responsible for 80% of all cases of primary liver cancer, which is one of the leading causes of death in Asia and Africa.

Should this beast be left to ravage this all important organ without check? Should the liver be left at the mercy of hepatitis? Capital NO! No way! Hepatitis MUST be checked, in fact, stopped. It has presented itself to be a monster and seems uncheckable in its ravaging. But how can it be checked?

With Hepatitis B, prevention is truly better than cure. Hepatitis B is best prevented by exactly the same way we prevent HIV/AIDS as both are transmitted in body fluids (blood, saliva, semen and vaginal fluid).The only way to know if you have Hepatitis is to do a test. Though only 50% of people who get infected show the classical symptoms of acute infection which include fever, abdominal pain, dark urine, nausea and jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), rash and joint pain, go and see a doctor if you have any of these symptoms. A medical laboratory test in the clinic or even in a pharmacy with home-test kits could be used to evaluate if an infection exists. It is the chronic case (more than 6 months of infection) that usually causes the problems – liver cirrhosis and cancer. Children and health workers usually receive Hepatitis B vaccination to build immunity against the virus. Vaccination is also required if someone has been exposed to a possible source of infection to help with immune development before the virus begins to replicate. Patients with Hepatitis B infection can also be treated, for them there is a new drug in the market called Hepantivir. Hepantivir is a natural product and according to the makers – Bolar Pharmaceuticals, Hepantivir is a “new original molecule which is a specific antiviral agent actively inhibiting the replication of viruses (A,B,C,D and E). It has been proven to be an antiviral treatment of acute (A,B,C,D and E) or Chronic (B and C) hepatitis without jaundice”. Their claim “Hepantivir should become a standard of care for HBV related chronic liver diseases as current treatment options for HBV are less than satisfactory or way too expensive”.

Note that it is a prescription drug, hence, a doctor’s prescription is required for one to use this product.

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