Many associate liver diseases with alcohol, but that's just one cause, says an expert. Water and food are common carriers of the Hepatitis virus that affects the liver.
Ashish Sharma, consultant, internal medicine, Columbia Asia Hospital, Ghaziabad, explains the different types of hepatitis, the symptoms and vaccines available:
Hepatitis A - It is the most harmless virus of the lot. Contamination of food and water are the prime reasons for the infection. The best way to prevent it is to be careful of what you eat. Avoid unpacked or unsealed food or drinks.
* Symptoms: Inflamed liver, no appetite, jaundice, nausea, vomiting and fever.
* Vaccine: The vaccine is easily available. It can be taken by anyone above the age of one. Two doses are given at a time, six months apart. It can protect you for at least 20 years.
Hepatitis B - This virus can go undetected for decades before irreversible liver damage has been done. It is usually infected through blood, saliva, unprotected sex and from the mother to the foetus. Cuts are very frequent during shaving, so it is advisable not to share the razor because the blood may dry, but the virus can live for a week.
* Symptoms: Frequent stomach pain, skin rashes and dark urine.
* Vaccine: Newborn babies must be immunized within 72 hours of birth and three injections can be given at the ages of zero, one and six. Protection will last for 25 years.
Hepatitis C - It can go undetected for upto 20 years. It has yet to be proved that it can be passed through sexual contact, but blood-to-blood infection is the general route. Tattooing with unsterilized needles is a definite route of transmitting Hepatitis B and C. If sterilized equipment is not used, the virus may spread.
* Symptoms: Poor appetite, jaundice, nausea, disturbed sleep and depression.
* Vaccine: No vaccine is available at the moment.
Hepatitis D - Those who have been infected by Hepatitis B can also be infected with Hepatitis D.
* Symptoms: Fatigue, vomiting, slow fever, dark urine and light stool.
* Vaccine: The vaccine used for Hepatitis B can also be used in this case.
Hepatitis E - It can be transmitted through oral route.
* Symptoms: Jaundice, appetite and weight loss, nausea, enlarged and tender liver.