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World Hepatitis Day 2023: Hepatitis B vs Hepatitis C; which is more dangerous? | Health

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Hepatitis, an inflammation of liver, can cause mild as well as severe symptoms depending on their type. There are five types of hepatitis namely Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis D and Hepatitis E. They all are contracted differently, and some types can be more dangerous than the others. According to WHO, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C can cause chronic disease, permanent damage to life and even death. Common signs of hepatitis are upper abdominal pain, fever, nausea, vomiting, weakness, loss of appetite, loose motions, jaundice among others. Around 354 million people around the world live with Hepatitis B or C. (Also read: World Hepatitis Day 2023: Date, history, theme and significance of the day)

World Hepatitis Day is observed every year on July 28, 2023(Freepik)
World Hepatitis Day is observed every year on July 28, 2023(Freepik)

Hepatitis B, a viral infection can cause both acute and chronic liver disease. It can even be fatal as it raises one’s risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer. The infection can spread through infected body fluids like blood, saliva, vaginal fluids and semen. Newborns are given the vaccine to protect against the infection at the time of birth, followed up by vaccine a few weeks later.

Hepatitis C virus is a bloodborne virus and can be transmitted via blood transfusion, reuse of inadequate sterilization of medical equipment, especially syringes and needles, sharing of injection equipment. It can pass from an infected mother to her baby or sexual practices that lead to exposure to blood.

Difference between Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, and which one is deadlier?

“Both Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C are viral infections which are transmitted either sexually or through contact with blood/bodily fluids of infected person. Sometimes there can be co-infection also. Despite having a vaccine, Hepatitis B infection is more common worldwide as compared to Hepatitis C. The Hepatitis B virus is also approximately 5-10 times more infectious than Hepatitis C. Hepatitis B most of the times gets cleared by the body without any medication, but if it becomes chronic, there is no clear-cut cure for it. Hepatitis C can be cured with an antiviral pill if it is detected in the early stages of the disease. Both the viruses can cause liver damage, cirrhosis and liver cancer in the long run,” says Dr Tushar Tayal, Consultant- Internal Medicine, CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram.

Symptoms of Hepatitis

Common signs and symptoms of hepatitis are

  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Right upper abdominal pain
  • Clay coloured stools
  • Loss of appetite and loose stools
  • Fever
  • Yellowing of the skin and the eyes (jaundice)
  • Itching over body

Prevention tips

Dr Tayal shares tips to prevent Hepatitis infection:

  • During sexual intercourse with a person of unknown medical status, always use a physical contraceptive.
  • Never share needles.
  • Always undergo a medical procedure from a registered doctor and hospital only.
  • Blood should always be procured from a registered blood bank in case of need for blood transfusion.
  • Ensure that your barber should sterilise his instruments prior to a shave.
  • Avoid getting tattoos from unregistered vendors.
  • Hepatitis B vaccine should be taken by everyone to prevent chances of infection.
  • Exercise regularly to keep your liver healthy.

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