A NOTE ON HEPATITIS: Prevention is Better than Cure


Have you ever noticed how a day changes into another with such slurring that the week appeared as it would never come to an end? Such is usually the case when schoolwork becomes burdensome- or when a loved one who once spent each day with us is lost. It gets even more painful when the loved one is lost to a disease that could have been prevented.

Today, you will learn of a viral condition which is definitely more deadly than the publicly-feared HIV/AIDS, and that is Hepatitis having some of its viral forms to be about 50 to 100 times more infectious than the Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Hepatitis refers to an inflammatory condition of the liver. It is commonly caused by a viral infection, but there are other possible causes of hepatitis. These include autoimmune hepatitis and hepatitis that occurs as a secondary result of medications, drugs, toxins and alcohol. Autoimmune hepatitis is a disease that occurs when the body makes antibodies against the liver tissue. Treatment options vary depending on which type of hepatitis diagnosed and some can be prevented through immunizations and lifestyle precautions.

Common signs noticed in folks with hepatitis include:

  • Some non-specific symptoms develop first such as anorexia (loss of appetite), malaise, nausea and vomiting. Often times, there is fever, right upper quadrant abdominal pain.
  • After some days, the urine darkens, followed by jaundice.
  • In the case of acute hepatitis, the symptoms often regress and the affected individual feels better but sometimes no regression is noticed but a progression into chronic hepatitis occurs instead.
  • In chronic hepatitis, the first findings are usually signs of chronic liver diseases, also noticed are some complications of cirrhosis.

There is a common saying that prevention is better than cure. It’s no news that the treatment of chronic liver diseases is of little efficacy, hence, prevention is very important. General measures of preventing hepatitis include:

  • Good personal hygiene which helps prevent transmission of certain hepatitis viruses.
  • Barrier protection when coming into contact with body fluids of patients
  • Avoiding unnecessary transfusions and screening all donors.
  • Active immunization using vaccines and passive immunization.

The Ife Medical Students Association under the leadership of the You & I executive body started a program that allowed easy access of medical students to getting screened and vaccinated against some forms of hepatitis. This was a laudable step to enhancing the general welfare of students, it is however saddening that only a few registered for the program. I would love to use this medium to encourage the current administration to uphold the program and also encourage students to approach their health with more seriousness and get screened!

Finally, to end this text is a plea to all medical practitioners (to include aspiring ones, and interested fellows) using a quote:

He who cures a disease may be the skillfullest, but he that prevents it- is the safest physician.

By Thomas Fuller

Let’s come together then and help protect the world from this grim-faced hepatitis!

Have a lovely week!

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