July 28 marks World Hepatitis Day. India stands fourth among 11 countries which carry almost 50% of the global burden of chronic hepatitis. Globally every year, 1.4 million people die from hepatitis, which can be transmitted from the mother to baby, via sexual contact, or upon contact with infected blood.
Inflammation of the liver (commonly known as hepatitis) can result from viral infection and as all the symptoms are nearly close enough, without a diagnostic test, it is impossible to differentiate. Lack of regular check-up and diagnosis is the prime reason for being undetected. Globally around 400 million people are infected with the hepatitis B virus in the world today and a prime reason for it is liver failure and cancer.
As the function of the liver is to help in digestion by producing proteins, enzymes, and other substances, clear toxins from the body, any abnormality in the production of the components is a serious indication of an ailment that the liver is not functioning well.
“In case suspecting an improper functioning of the liver, liver function test (LFT) may be done wherein a sample of blood is taken for analysis. The following substances if found abnormally, is an indication of hepatitis,” Dr. Vinay Aggarwal, Past National President, Indian Medical Association.
Albumin is a protein synthesized by the liver to help move the minerals and required nutrients into the blood. Low levels of this protein are a serious sign of liver disease. Enzymes are synthesised by the liver of which ALP is necessary for bone growth, ALT assists in processing protein and AST help in converting food to energy.
A person suffering from hepatitis will have high levels of these enzymes in the blood Bilirubin. The patient will have high levels of this pigment, which is also responsible for causing jaundice, which is produced when the RBC breaks down.
According to Dr Ruchi Gupta, founder of 3h care.in, “To obtain the severity, type and which strain of hepatitis a person is suffering from, Viral serology is a series of blood tests conducted for screening complete details of the liver. The sample is checked for specific markers of the invading virus and its antibodies that fight them off. Such tests are useful in the long-term management of patients with hepatitis. The disappearance of antigens from the blood is an indication that the infection is clearing,” she added.
The blood is tested for the following antigens and antibodies. To determine the type and severity of hepatitis, a combination of tests need to be conducted for identifying the progression, in order to decide the best course of action.