The what, the how, the complications and its management of Hep B
What is hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is an acute and / or chronic disease in which the hepatitis B virus (HBV) attacks the liver. The virus can enter your body through body fluids or blood transfusions from an infected person or object and damage the liver and cause potentially life-threatening diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver.
The infection can become chronic and fatal in a newborn baby born from its mother and can only be prevented by vaccination within 24 hours of birth. A second vaccination one month after the first vaccination and a third one after 6 months after the second vaccination. If a previously vaccinated adult becomes infected with hepatitis B, the condition may be acute at the time of birth and not prolonged due to the strong immunity from vaccination at the time of birth.
A survey carried out by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that there are more than 6.86,000 worldwide and approximately 1.15,000 Indian deaths from Hep-B infection each year.
The first thing to remember if you or someone you know is infected with hepatitis B, the first thing to remember is that while hepatitis B is an incurable infection, it is 100% prevented with vaccines and lifestyle changes, regular checkups, and prescription medications can.
If you keep reading this article, you will learn more about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of Hep B.
How is hepatitis B infected?
The hepatitis B virus is the cause of Hep B infection. The question, however, is how does this virus get into your body? Transmission of HBV can occur due to the following factors:
Mother to child:
Any woman can become infected with the Hep-B virus for many reasons, e.g. specimens, specimen collection kits, etc.). If infected, the mother transmits the HBV to the developing fetus during pregnancy and the child carries the virus at birth. However, babies can be protected against a Hep-B virus by giving them a vaccine.
Unprotected sex leads to transmission of the HBV virus which is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the exchange of body fluids such as semen, vaginal fluid, saliva from an infected person to an uninfected one.
Sharing personal things
Your most important items, such as toothbrushes, combs, or nail clippers, are prone to infection if shared with others. Therefore, if you share this important information with an infected person, there is a high chance that you will become infected with HBV.
If a needle has ever been used by or on an infected person, which has not been disposed of properly or has been used multiple times, it becomes a major source of Hep-B virus transmission.
Clinical exposure is also one of the most common causes of the transmission of the Hep-B virus. If you’re a doctor exposed to non-sterile Hep-B laboratory equipment, improperly storing blood samples, or treating patients without proper safety precautions, there is a chance you could become infected with the virus.
Symptoms of hepatitis B
- Dark urine
- Repeated attacks of fever
- Continuous exhaustion
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pale stool
- stomach pain
You can remain asymptomatic for the first 6 months after infection, but you can still transmit the infection. The condition can only be identified with an early diagnosis.
Diagnosis of hepatitis B
The symptoms of hepatitis B are similar to those of other liver diseases. Differentiation and identification of the infection without diagnosis is therefore impossible. Your doctor may ask you for a hepatitis B panel blood test or a liver biopsy to determine the type and severity of the Hep B infection.
Hepatitis B blood panel
- HBsAg (hepatitis B surface antigen): A positive or reactive HBsAg indicates that you are infected with hepatitis B and a potential carrier of the virus. If the result is positive, additional tests will be required to determine whether the infection is acute or chronic in order to initiate treatment.
- Anti-HBs or HBsAb (hepatitis B surface antibodies): A positive or reactive HBsAb indicates that you are not infected with the Hep-B virus and have developed immunity to the virus. This protection may be due to a history of infection and healing, or being vaccinated at birth.
- Anti-HBc or HBcAb (hepatitis B core antibodies): A positive or reactive HBcAb indicates that you are infected and need medical attention. The result of this test can be verified after observing the results of the previous two tests.
- Liver biopsy: It’s a surgical diagnostic procedure that involves surgically removing a small part of your liver for examination to confirm or deny the presence of the HBV virus.
Treatment of hepatitis B.
- Treatment of acute hepatitis B.: There is no specific treatment for acute Hep B. However, lifestyle changes such as regular exercise and a nutritional diet can prevent it. You shouldn’t take any medication to control symptoms without consulting a specialist.
- Chronic hepatitis B treatment: Chronic hepatitis can be managed with regular medical monitoring, prescribed medications, and lifestyle changes. The drugs for chronic hepatitis B also help control deadly liver complications such as cirrhosis and liver cancer.
The hepatitis B vaccination is like armor that can protect you for a lifetime. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a vaccinated infant must not be infected with the hepatitis B virus for at least 20 years and the effects of the vaccine can last a lifetime.
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