Have You Taken Your Hepatitis B Vaccine Yet? It Can Give You Protection Against Liver Cancer

Hepatitis denotes inflammation of the liver. It is largely caused by viral infections and also by exposure to harmful substances like alcohol. Around 300 million people worldwide are afflicted with viral hepatitis, many of whom remain unaware of its occurrence.

The viruses causing hepatitis are termed A, B, C,D and E. Due to the burden of sickness and death they inflict, and also because it can reach epidemic proportions, these viruses assume immense clinical importance. Hepatitis B and C infections can linger on for years (Chronic Hepatitis) and can lead to severe liver disorders such as Cirrhosis (Liver scarring) and Hepatocellular Carcinoma (Liver Cancer). Hepatitis B is the most common cause of liver cancer.

The importance of prevention is, therefore, of utmost importance. Vaccination for Hepatitis B and A are available and are the best ways to prevent them from spreading. COVID 19 has posed special challenges for all, especially patients with Hepatitis. Regular visits to treating doctors and timely investigations have been greatly hampered.

Not just this, procuring medicines itself has become a challenge due to delayed deliveries and erratic supplies of most orders. Adjusting to telemedicine has not been easy and is also, out of reach for many. Above all, the stress of contracting COVID 19 over an already existing hepatitis and also unanswered queries regarding the COVID 19 vaccine safety & efficacy, in patients with liver disease, has caused immense mental agony.

It is much in order and crucial to providing hepatitis patients with some basic and necessary information on COVID 19 and Hepatitis. It can help avoid panic in patients with Hepatitis, amidst the pandemic. Here are some suggestions, which though, appear obvious, but nonetheless, cannot be over-emphasized. Decrease your hospital visits if possible. Try to keep in touch with your doctor virtually. Multiple options are available today in form of telemedicine and video calls. Do not modify or discontinue your medication. Procure the medicine in a timely as there is legislation in certain provinces, limiting prescriptions to a one-month period. Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Practice proper respiratory hygiene by wearing a mask and maintaining a safe social distance.

Get vaccinated at the earliest, in consultation with your doctor. Largely, there are no contraindications to COVID 19 vaccination, in patients with liver diseases. In an unfortunate event of contracting COVID 19 infection, isolate yourself, continue Hepatitis treatment despite active COVID 19 infection, of course , under medical supervision.

It is needless to say that COVID 19 treatment assumes an upper hand and should be prioritized, under the care of a pulmonary specialist.

COVID 19 and Hepatitis can be exhausting in every which way one may consider, both during the illness and even after the recovery. Therefore, prevention should be the focus.

Dr Anurag Govil, Gastroenterologist and HOD of Department Gastroenterology, Santokba Durlabhji Memorial Hospital, Rajasthan

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