The World Health Organization has designated special days to create awareness about infectious diseases like viral hepatitis, AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and also to pledge their commitment towards the prevention and eradication of it. World Hepatitis Day, observed on 28 July every year, aims to raise global awareness about the disease, its diagnosis and cure.
Over 500 functions
The liver does more than 500 chemical functions in the human body. It controls the assimilation process of the carbohydrates, protein and fat contained in food. Liver converts the extra glucose into glycogen and stores it, so that it can break down the glycogen back into glucose whenever necessary. People suffering from liver ailments are usually diagnosed with unstable blood sugar levels as this process gets disrupted.
Liver acts as a unique ‘factory’ in the human body which works regularly and does many amazing functions. Albumin is a protein produced by the liver. Besides, it also produces the bile which digests fat and also aids the blood to clot. Liver removes the toxins from blood and stores vitamins as well. It also plays a vital role in improving the immunity power of the body.
A bit of liver
Liver has the unique ability to re-grow after its removal or even if 80% of its cells are damaged. It will grow back in just two months even if more than half of the liver is surgically removed. However, medical experts say that this piece of information actually triggers many to engage in unhealthy life styles, over eating and alcoholism. They indulge in alcohol and other forms of intoxication thinking that the liver, even if it is damaged, would grow back or could be transplanted. But, doctors warn that it is often an unhealthy liver which proves fatal for such people.
Liver is an organ which tirelessly works hard to maintain the health and balance of the human body. Therefore, it is important to take care of the liver to lead a healthy and long life. Viral hepatitis has been identified as the second most fatal infection that affects and claims the lives of millions of people. Hepatitis has been divided into A,B,C,D and E, among which A and E are the most common cause of deaths.
Hepatitis B and C have posed grave dangers to the public health of our country. The rate of death, due to hepatitis B, is alarmingly high. Reports suggest that 1% of the Indian population suffers from Hepatitis C. Around 6% of the global medicine market is dedicated to cure Hepatitis B and C. The government provides free hepatitis B vaccine in an effort to prevent and curb the disease.
Beware of liver
A liver transplant in India would cost up to Rs 40 lakh which puts the common people in jeopardy. Besides, it is extremely difficult to find a matching liver. So, it would be prudent to take care of our liver through healthy life styles than taking a risk. Cirrhosis and liver cancer are caused when hepatitis B and C are left untreated. Too much alcohol intake increases the chance of cirrhosis. Stomach ache, nausea, gas trouble, discomfort, swelling near the private and other parts of the body, hepatitis, vomiting, suffocation, delirium, sleeping too much during the day time, being in a minimally conscious state and spotting blood in stool and on jaws are some of the symptoms of cirrhosis. Viral hepatitis disease has earned notoriety for claiming the lives of the patients swiftly and unexpectedly.
Here are some of the ways in which viral hepatitis could be prevented
• Say no to unscientific treatment methods.
• Maintain personal hygiene as well as of the surroundings. Wash your hands well using soap and water before eating and also after using toilet.
• Drink boiled water.
• Take all the necessary vaccinations.
• Strict measures should be taken to ensure liver tests in pregnant women.
• Make sure that you receive blood from those who are healthy. A flawless system of blood bank should be maintained for this.
• Follow healthy and safe sexual practices.
• Do not hesitate to undergo scientific medical treatment as soon as diagnosed with the disease.
(Information courtesy: Dr. Y Praveen Kumar, President, Thrissur Liver Club, hepatologist, Government Medical College, Thrissur. )