Sunday, July 28, 2013

Alcohol is creating large scale liver problem among youth in India

Many teenagers in urban areas are suffering from alcoholic hepatitis. Many of them are brought to hospitals in unconscious state with high bilirubin, SGOT and SGPT levels. These teenagers are typically 17-18 years and many experts attribute their condition to social drinking.

Social drinking among youths (16-18 years) is taking a toll on their liver. Hepatitis is a condition where the liver swells and hinders its functioning.

In the past year, many youngsters, including girls, have been diagnosed with symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis. In Bangalore, there is an increase in teenagers in Class 11 and 12 becoming alcoholic addicts. They develop symptoms of lethargy, loss of appetite, gastritis and pain in the abdomen. Unless they're treated at the right time, they become victims of alcohol hepatitis.
Shockingly, such patients are not accompanied by their parents, but friends, an indicator that their parents are clueless about what their kids are up to.
The mortality rate is very high in such cases -- about 10% to 15% and in the 15-18 age group it's the highest. If treatment doesn't help, the only option is liver transplant.

Every drop of alcohol the body consumes gets rejected by the liver as a toxin. With changing lifestyle, alcohol has become a norm, but its deadly. Hepatitis B or other liver-related disorders are commonly seen among diabetics too. For every ten diabetics, at least six will have a fatty liver which can further result in liver disorders. Over 8 million Indians have alcohol-induced liver disease.

In Bangalore a survey was undertaken to collect data on Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C infections among the urban population of Bangalore. The survey reveals that one in 50 person in the city has Hepatitis B and one in 200 has Hepatitis C. These findings were the outcome of free screening camps.

The results indicate the magnitude of the disease and sound an alert for preventive measures. Awareness of these diseases is extremely low. Worse, it's a silent killer with the majority of those infected unaware of the problem. However, they're easily treatable if detected early and can be completely prevented by getting vaccinated. If left untreated, both hepatitis B and C viruses can lead to liver cirrhosis which can cause bleeding, accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity, coma, liver cancer, liver failure or even death.

Shockingly, about 30 million people in India have chronic Hepatitis B or C infection, far higher than the prevalence of HIV or any cancer. However, chronic viral hepatitis does not have the level of awareness seen with other communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.


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