Hepatitis B: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, And Prevention

hepatitis B

What Is Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is simply an inflammation of the liver that is caused by the hepatitis B virus. This type of virus can cause cancer of the liver and liver failure in an individual. You can get hepatitis B when you come in contact with body fluids, blood, and open wounds of an infected person.

It could be life-threatening if not treated. An adult who gets hepatitis B might feel relieved as your body fights of the virus within a few months making you be immune to the virus for the rest of your life. That is to say you can’t get the virus again while if he or she gets the virus from birth, then the possibility for the virus to go away is very negligible as you end up having it for life.   

What Is The Symptom Of Hepatitis B?

Most people might not experience any symptoms quickly as it might take a minimum of 1 or 2 months for the symptoms to surface after getting infected. You may experience the following symptoms once you are infected with hepatitis B. They include:

  • Fever
  • Feelings of jaundice like the color of your urine turn orange or brown, and the color of your eyes that was once white in color turns yellow
  • Stomach ache
  • Your stool becomes light-colored
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feelings of fatigue that might last for weeks or months
  • Vomiting and nauseatin 

What Are The Causes Of Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is usually caused by the hepatitis B virus from an infected person.

Read Also: Hepatitis A: Causes, New Symptoms, And New Treatment

How Can One Get Hepatitis B?

The following are the main routes to get hepatitis B so easily:

  • Through having unprotected sex with an infected partner as your partner’s blood, semen, saliva, and vaginal secretions might enter your body.
hepatitis B
  • Unsterilized needles: Needles that are not sterilized and comes in contact with the blood of infected person can easily make you be vulnerable to this virus.
  • Sharing of needles/sharp objects: Health care workers who accidentally come in contact with the blood of the infected person.
  • Through blood transfusion: Unscreened blood with the virus can easily be transmitted to an uninfected patient through blood transfusion.
  • From mother to child: Pregnant women with this virus can easily transfer hepatitis B to their babies during childbirth.

Although we now have a vaccine to help prevent new infants from getting hepatitis B from infected mothers.

Is This Disease Common?

Yes, hepatitis B is highly common among people between the ages of 20 and 49. The number of people infected with hepatitis B has reduced from an average of 200,000 per year in the 1980s to around 20,000 in 2016 according to statistics by CDC.

It is also estimated that about 5 percent to 10 percent of adults and children older than 5 years who have hepatitis B end up having a chronic infection. About 25 percent to 50 percent of people younger than 5 years end up having a chronic infection and the percentage is even higher in infants infected at birth usually 90 percent.

In the U.S it is estimated that about 1.4 million people are carriers of hepatitis B.

Diagnosis Of Hepatitis B

If you experience any of the above symptoms, your medical doctor will perform a complete physical examination on you. Your blood sample will be collected to check if you have inflammation of the liver. In the case of you experiencing an increased level of liver enzymes, you will be tested for:

  • HBsAg (Hepatitis B surface antigen and antibody): The proteins on the hepatitis B virus are known as Antigens while proteins produced by your immune cells are called Antibodies. Both antigens and antibodies can appear in your blood between one month to 3 months after exposure to hepatitis B virus. If you recover after 4 to 6 months then it’s not a chronic hepatitis B but if you don’t recover after 6 months then it’s a chronic one.
  • Anti-HBs (Hepatitis B surface antibody): These appear after HBsAg disappears. This is what makes you immune to hepatitis B for every day of your life.

If your hepatitis B becomes chronic, your doctor will undertake biopsy on you which is simply taking a tissue sample from your liver to ascertain how severe the disease is.

Read Also: Hepatitis B Shots Coverage

How You Can Treat Hepatitis B

When you discover you have been exposed to the virus, quickly visit your doctor for optimal advice and treatment. Your medical doctor will give you a vaccine and one shot of hepatitis B immune globulin as the earlier you get treated the better for you to achieve your desired health. This protein helps boost your immune system by fighting off the infection immensely.

Avoid consumption of alcohol and smoking so as not to interfere with the treatment. Never take any drugs, supplements, or herbal treatments without prescription of the doctor as some of them might mar your internal organs. Always eat healthy foods to make you recover very fast.

When you are free of the infection, your doctor will inform you that it’s in a dormant stage. This does not mean your antibody tests won’t show you have had the disease in the past even though the virus is not found in your body.

If after 6 months, the disease still persists then your doctor will prescribe the following medications for effective treatment:

  • Tenofovir (Viread): It is usually in a tablet or powdered form and you will check often by your doctor to make sure the drug doesn’t damage your kidneys.
  • Adefovir dipivoxil (Hepsera): This drug usually in tablet form works best in patients who don’t respond to lamivudine. It is advisable never to take this drug in high dose as it might mar your kidney.
  • Entecavir (Baraclude): This drug usually comes in tablet or liquid form and it’s one of the newest drugs to treat hepatitis B effectively.
  • Lamivudine (3tc.. Epivir A/F, Epivir HBV, Heptovir): It is usually in a tablet or liquid form and you are advised to take it once each day. The virus might not respond to the drugs any longer when you continuously take this drug for a long time.
  • Interferon alfa (Intron A, Roferon A, Sylatron): This drug helps boost your immune system greatly as you can take it for a minimum of 6 months as a shot. It only helps in treating inflammation of the liver but doesn’t cure this disease completely.

Although, this drug has some side effects like making you lose appetite, feel dizzy, reduces your WBC (white blood count) which makes it difficult to fight off infections in your body.

Complications Associated With This Disease

Most chronic hepatitis B can result in any of the following:

  • Cancer of the liver
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Liver failure
  • Blood vessel issues

Does Hepatitis B Have An Effect On Pregnancy?

Most pregnant women infected with this disease can easily transfer the virus to their baby at birth but it’s less likely to occur during the period of your pregnancy.

When your baby is infected with the virus and left untreated might make the baby develop long-term liver problems. It is advisable for the newborn baby and the mother to be given a shot of the hepatitis B immune globulin and its vaccine at birth and during their first year of life for optimal treatment.

Also, you can eat healthy foods to help boost your immune system and reduce the viral load in your blood.

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Prevention Of Hepatitis B

You can help prevent this virus from spreading to an uninfected person by easily adhering to the following:

  • If you have been infected with the virus always go for your vaccination.
  • Always wear hand gloves when you clean up after others, especially before touching their linens and bandages to help protect yourself.
  • Avoid sharing of toothbrushes, razors, weaving needles, and nail care tools.
  • If you are to use any of the needles for tattoos, hair weaving, manicures/pedicures, and ear piercing they should be properly sterilized to avoid transmission of the virus to a healthy individual.
  • Always wear condoms if you are to have sex or total abstinence from sex.
  • All open wounds and cuts should be properly covered.
  • Never pre-chew food for any newborn baby.
  • Always use a bowl of water and a part of household bleach to clean up blood.

Can The Virus Be Transmitted Through Blood Transfusions?

Although your chances of having this virus are negligible as most blood donated are properly screened before putting them in the blood bank. Any blood found to be infected with this virus is always discarded.

Who Should Receive The Hepatitis B Vaccine?

The following people should go for vaccination:

  • All newborn babies should be vaccinated
  • If you use needles to take recreational drugs
  • If you are working in the health sector (Hospitals)
  • Any person that comes in contact with infected body fluids or blood of close friends or relatives
  • Any person that has multiple sex partners
  • If you work in a day care center, prison, or school

Is This Virus Curable?

Hepatitis B has no cure for now but it sometimes disappears in people with a chronic case of the disease.

Prognosis Of Hepatitis B

When you’ve completely recovered from this disease your medical doctor will check if you still have the above symptoms to know if your liver is working effectively or you have hepatitis B surface antibody in your body.

Some people might have this infection for more than 6 months and its symptoms might not be visible as they are still regarded as carriers. This means they can still transfer the disease to a healthy person through unprotected sex, sharing of syringes or needles, contact with infected blood or open wounds.

Although no study has confirmed why some carriers tend not to have the infection as time goes by as this makes doctors panic.

Care For People With This Disease

If you have any of your friends or close relatives with this disease, you can care for them by:

  • Not discriminating them and offer them the full love and care
  • Advise them on the need for them to continually take their drugs and vaccine
  • Advice them not to engage in any unprotected sex or use condoms to avoid spreading the virus
  • They should always maintain a good lifestyle and avoid smoking/drinking of alcohol
  • Always eating healthy food to help boost their immune system
  • Pray for them as there is nothing impossible for God to do

Now that you’ve known what hepatitis B is and how you could get the disease, always take good care of your liver by eating a healthy diet and maintaining a good lifestyle. You can also get hepatitis B through incessant smoking, drugs, and drinking of alcohol to refrain from this habit.

Also, having either hepatitis B or hepatitis C is very harmful to your overall health. Some hepatitis might be less severe while others might be chronic leading to liver cirrhosis/cancer of the liver. You can go for vaccination to help avert some viral forms from surfacing.

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