By Dr. Sufla Saxena
Hepatitis among children can happen when a child comes in contact with the hepatitis-causing virus. The hepatitis virus is of five subtypes: A, B, C, D, and E. The color of skin and the eyes turn yellow (jaundice), and flu-like symptoms are among the most typical signs of hepatitis. In this condition, a child’s immune system produces antibodies that attack the liver and trigger an inflammatory response that leads to hepatitis.
The viruses of Hepatitis can be transmitted to a child’s body through various ways:
For Hepatitis A: This type of the infection is passed through fecal-oral contact. It is mostly spread through drinking contaminated water or consuming infected food which is cooked in a non-hygienic way. Hepatitis E is also spread through fecal-oral contact.
For Hepatitis B: It is the most common type along with Hepatitis C that spreads from an infected person to a healthy person through blood. It can be spread through needlesticks, unsterilized syringe and sharp instruments. It is common in children who are suffering from any disability, undergone kidney dialysis or have blood-clotting problems. Hepatitis D can only happen with hepatitis B.
For Hepatitis C: This also passes through infected blood and can be seen in children born to mothers who have the virus, have blood clotting problems or who have engaged in unprotected sex.
Here are the symptoms of Hepatitis in a child:
Sometimes, there are no symptoms seen in Hepatitis. But if seen, the initial symptoms are vague and unrecognizable. The symptoms include vomiting, sickness, weakness, loss of hunger, fever, diarrhea, joint pain, sore muscles, and itchy red hives on the skin.
In the case of chronic Hepatitis, a child may also experience dark-yellow colored urine, light stools and jaundice-like symptoms when white part of an eye turns yellow and leaves yellowish patches on the skin. It can also lead to gastroenteritis or pink eye. These symptoms vary from child to child.
Preventing Hepatitis in Children:
- Treatment for Hepatitis varies from children o children depending upon the reason for the illness. The objective of treatment is to reduce harm to the liver and mitigate its side effects.
- Proper handwashing is key when it comes to preventing Hepatitis
- Try to avoid contact with people who are sick
- Educate children to take precautionary measure like covering coughs and sneezes, and reminding them not to touch the eyes, nose, or mouth
- Ensuring safe blood transfusions and injections
- Ensuring adequate rest and a balanced diet for fast recovery
- Using alcoholic liquids for cleaning purpose
- Screening, early detection and initiation of treatment
- Although all these preventive measures are important but to prevent the infection of Hepatitis, parents must ensure that the kid is vaccinated against the two variants, A and B. There is no such cure present for the strains C, D, and E. Immunization is one of the most feasible options available to prevent an infection.
(The author is a Consultant – Paediatric Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist, HCMCT Manipal Hospital, Dwarka. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of FinancialExpress.com.)