In an interaction with BW Healthcare World, Dr. Akash Shukla, Director, Hepatology, Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital, Mumbai, talks about the penetration of hepatitis in young adults, its causes, available treatments and therapies, different symptoms in adults and young people, and the effectiveness of stem cell therapy
What increases the risk of liver disease in youth and young adults?
Although the number of childhood and young adult patients with hepatitis has increased this year compared to the past 2 years, it is still lower than what we used to see before the covid pandemic hit. settles down. One of the reasons we still haven’t seen the number of hepatitis cases as high as we saw during the pre-covid pandemic is that people are on the whole more aware of the hygiene and are therefore more attentive to the safety they take while eating and avoid unsanitary places because of the fear of the pandemic and the habits that people have developed in the last 2 years.
Although covid restrictions have been eased and people have started moving and consuming street food, they are still not doing so to the same extent as before the covid pandemic arrived.
The cases of hepatitis that we see these days are more in adolescents and young adults, the population least affected by the covid pandemic and who are used to eating street foods as much as possible and who are the most active socially and sexually. Most children with acute hepatitis are actually asymptomatic. A large proportion of children will just develop anorexia, vomiting and may have 1 or 2 days of fever then their symptoms will resolve in 2-3-4 days, some children will develop jaundice which will last 4-7 days and resolve. will improve spontaneously afterwards. Less than 1% of children will develop the severe form of hepatitis and liver failure. This is more common in adults who get hepatitis A. Unlike adults who develop symptoms for several days and whose jaundice is often prolonged, most children will have very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.
What effective treatments and therapies are currently available?
What we must do to prevent hepatitis relates to hepatitis A and hepatitis E is to wash our hands frequently before taking meals and consuming any form of food, making sure to drink water clean and hygienic food and avoiding the use of reusable utensils at public gatherings. For Hepatitis B there is an effective vaccine that is available and for Hepatitis C we need to make sure that people follow safe sex practices, they don’t indulge in sharing needles, razors or anything sharp equipment. Avoid intravenous drug use and maintain a healthy lifestyle, eat a balanced diet, and exercise regularly. With these measures you can prevent all forms of hepatitis. Another important way to prevent hepatitis is to make sure you don’t drink alcohol.
What symptoms do children and adults have, are the symptoms different for children and adults?
Alcohol consumption is increasing among young people and has now become one of the main causes of hepatitis in young adults who present with jaundice, bloating, facial swelling, anorexia, vomiting and pain in the upper right half of the abdomen. They are much more prone to injury as they tend to binge on alcohol and often neglect food intake when drinking heavily. If we can prevent the formation of alcohol dependence in this age group, most people who develop alcoholic liver disease later and develop hepatitis in early adulthood can be protected.
How effective is stem cell therapy for liver cirrhosis?
Young adults are the heaviest street food consumers, are socially and sexually active, and are also avid travellers, making them vulnerable to foodborne liver diseases such as hepatitis A and E and heart disease. sexually transmitted liver like hepatitis B and C. Children can also get hepatitis. B of mothers with hepatitis B. However, this can be avoided in most cases by prenatal screening of the mother and giving zero doses of hepatitis B vaccine and immunoglobulin to the newborn at birth within 24 hours. Most children with hepatitis remain asymptomatic. Others will develop jaundice associated with fever, anorexia, nausea and vomiting for a few days and recover spontaneously. About 1% will develop severe disease and acute liver failure and the first predictor of this is a prolonged INR of over 1.5. Adults with hepatitis A and pregnant women with hepatitis E are at higher risk of developing liver failure. The vaccine is available for hepatitis A and B but not for hepatitis C or E.