Jaundice needs no panic

Jaundice needs no panic
– By Dr D. Nageshwar Reddy

There have been reports of sudden spurt in the cases of jaundice in Hyderabad and Chennai. With the advent of summer, the number of such cases will increase. People are panic stricken.

Viral hepatitis is a infection of liver caused by certain viruses A, B, C, D or E. Out of these viruses, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis E viruses are spread by the consumption of food or drinking water contaminated with infected faecal matter. This type of hepatitis is known as infective hepatitis and is responsible for majority of cases of jaundice being reported in media.

All patients infected with Hepatitis A or E viruses do not have jaundice.

Symptoms

The first symptoms noticed by most patients are often weakness, tiredness, body ache, loss of appetite followed by fever, nausea, vomiting or abdominal pain. In fact jaundice comes latter. Most patients recover completely. A few patients may not improve, rather deteriorate, developing serious complications like coma. It is very important to seek medical advice before it is too late.

Treatment

Fortunately, nowadays facilities are available to find out, which virus is responsible for the jaundice. Most patients can be cared for at home. A few patients require hospitalisation which is decided by the treating physician.

Misconceptions

There are lot of misconceptions in society about jaundice. Many patients are not given any food especially fried food fearing worsening of jaundice, which is not true. The patient must be given adequate nutritious diet of his or her taste to ensure speedy recovery. It is quite prevalent in our society to give indigenous medicine or concoctions to a jaundiced patient believing them to be harmless. On the contrary, these substances sometimes lead to rapid deterioration in the condition of patients. Hence use of these substances must be avoided.

Prevention is better than cure

Nowadays a vaccine is available to prevent Hepatitis A and the search is on to develop a vaccine to prevent Hepatitis E. In fact, these cases can be prevented to a large extent if the public in general maintain not only personnel hygiene but ensure clean environment around them.

People must avoid consumption of raw unwashed fruits, cut fruits, eatables from unhygienic places. Drinking water must be boiled before consumption.

(The writer is Director & Chief Gastroenterologist, Asian Institute of Gastroenterology, Hyderabad)

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