Uganda: Living a Normal, Productive Life With Hepatitis

The word Hepatitis is derived from two words; hepatic (cells that make up the liver) and -itis (inflammation).

Dr Franklin Wasswa, a general physician, says several factors are responsible for inflammation of the liver and these include over consumption of alcohol and chemicals such as drugs, especially when taken in overdose.

Types

According to Dr Wasswa, these include A,B,C,D,E and G." Hepatitis A (HAV) is transmitted through contaminated foods and usually, it will make you sick immediately.

"However, with some supportive medical care, it can heal completely. Hepatitis B (HBV) and C (HCV) are similar because they are transmitted through engaging in unprotected sex and both can leave you with scars that can damage your liver for good.

He adds that HBV and HCV are hard to treat and contagious. "As such, one who tests positive for them will always be a carrier and can spread it to others.

For example, a mother can transmit it to their baby during childbirth. While HBV has a vaccine, sadly HCV does not," he says.

Looking at Hepatitis D (HDV), Dr Wasswa says one can only get it if they already have HBV. That said, if you have tested positive for HBV and HCV, your liver is at risk of damage, liver failure, and cancer. "Therefore, you need regular checkups to ensure all is okay," Dr Wasswa advises.

Diet

Sylvia Chelangat, a nutritionist, says hepatitis causes inflammation of the liver which may cause cirrhosis (scaring) that decreases liver function. "Reducing liver burden by cutting out toxins is vital," she says.

Dr Wasswa urges those suffering from it to avoid taking alcohol because it puts a lot of stress on the liver that is already diseased. "More liver injury will put you at risk of developing the cancer that the virus is already promoting.

Nutrients

Seeing that everything we eat and drink must be acted upon by the liver, Chelangat says maintaining proper nutrition can improve the health of your liver and may even reduce the impact of hepatitis. "Getting the right nutrients is crucial to your overall well-being."

Weight gain

Dr Wasswa says with the ailment, the risk of developing type 2 Diabetes is quiet high. As such, he says, one ought to maintain a good weight.

Chelengat adds that high fat or greasy meals should be avoided. "One should also reduce sugar and salt intake and avoid alcohol, canned, processed and fast foods. One should therefore choose organic nutritious foods," Chelangat advises.

Food plan

Chelangat says a good hepatitis food plan would include plenty of fresh leafy vegetables, fruits and whole grains such as whole wheat, brown rice and oats for fibre that helps with bowl movement and reduces risk of heart disease while also providing energy.

Minerals and vitamins are also vital to boost immunity while protein helps with liver tissue repair and manufacture of new liver cells when damaged.

"Aim for lean proteins such as eggs, nuts, soy protein, cow peas, skinless chicken and low fat diary. Always eat small portions at a time so you do not burden the already affected liver. Finally and very important is to ensure you drink six to eight glasses of water or other fluids each day," she says.

Exercise

More to that, having a regular workout routine is important. "Talking to your doctor about the suitable exercises for this condition is ideal," Chelangat advises.

If you have hepatitis B or C, Dr Wasswa says your liver is more delicate if you have or get HIV. "Therefore your sexual activity should be barrier protected to avoid spreading it to others," he advises.

Treatment

At a certain point of the disease, Dr Franklin Wasswa, a general physician, says there is treatment. "You can now get the virus checked to know its DNA composition and treat it with the exact drug to kill it. However, this is expensive and not easily available in Uganda but possible," he says.

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