Not many diseases are as life-threatening as Hepatitis B, mainly because it targets one of the most vital organs in the human body – liver! It is an infection which penetrates your immune system with the help of hepatitis B virus and thus, making it a popular concern for health enthusiasts.
Determining from the statistics, East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are the two most affected regions in the World, where about 5-10% of the total adult population is under the darkness of Hepatitis B. However, least of the population affected by this infection lives either in Western Europe or North America and the reasons are pretty understandable because of utmost health standards being followed in those regions of the planet.
Hepatitis B cannot spread by a ‘mere’ body contact with the infected person. For an individual to catch this wrath, he must receive blood or body fluids of an affected individual since the infection feeds there.
Here are a few most common ways through which the virus could be transferred from one person to another:
- Piercing with unsterilized tools (because if the tip of need is infected, it might transfer the virus to your bloodstream)
- Sharing toothbrushes (gum bleeding could transfer the virus as well)
- Sharing razors
- Having sex without any contraceptive measure (semen could carry the virus as well)
It should be noted that a pregnant lady can also pass the infection to her baby. Therefore, she must get tested for the presence of Hepatitis B virus, and if it does exist, then the baby must be injected with antibodies.
Hepatitis B has an array of symptoms, but for most of the people, symptoms might never occur.
Those individuals who might experience the symptoms, their intensity may range from mild to severe and usually begins to show within one to four months after being affected by the virus. Following is a list of most common symptoms that might be experienced by an individual suffering from Hepatitis B:
- Weakness and Fatigue
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin)
- Dark urine
- Pain in the joints
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
If the infection is not diagnosed earlier or the treatment is not carried out even after it has been diagnosed, then it might result in acute hepatitis which can ultimately lead to death as a result of liver failure.
In a fraction of the population affected by Hepatitis B, the virus might also cause a chronic liver infection which could later lead to liver infection and worsening of all the symptoms mentioned above.
A doctor could easily identify hepatitis B by judging the symptoms, but just to be on the safest side, a physical examination is carried out. Moreover, the efficiency of a liver is also checked to determine the extent of infection. In the cases of chronic disease, your doctor might prescribe a biopsy to determine the severity.
While HBV has managed to escape the medical sciences for quite some time, it has now been made possible with extensive research to treat the disease appropriately. The extent to which HBV is active inside the human body determines the mode of treatment.
If you suspect that you have been exposed to HBV, it is recommended to immediately get a shot of Hepatitis B Immunoglobulin (HBIG).
It is always a wise decision to opt for the hepatitis B vaccine’s first shot at the very least as well. Remember that if the exposure to the aforementioned virus has occurred via a needle stick, it is recommended to get vaccinated within the limited period of 7 days. If the cause of exposure is sexual contact with an affected partner, the recommended window for vaccination is extended to around two weeks. It is to be kept in mind, however, that the sooner you start the treatment, the better is going to be the outcome.
Acute Hepatitis B Treatment:
The good news is that the treatment of an acute Hepatitis B infection is not usually associated with the use of high-potency antiviral medicines. Home remedies and treatments can turn out to be more than sufficient for the purpose of curing an acute Hepatitis B infection that has been diagnosed on time. If you ensure consumption of plenty of fluids, a healthy diet, and avoidance of drugs and alcohol, you are already going to be on your way to cure Hepatitis B infection. However, in the event of aggressive symptoms, antiviral medicines may be recommended for the patient.
Chronic Hepatitis B Treatment:
The treatment of chronic Hepatitis B infection is determined by the extent to which the virus is active inside the body. The primary goal of such treatment is to prevent a permanent damage of the liver perhaps due to cirrhosis. It is accomplished by preventing the rapid multiplication of virus inside the body.
For an unfortunate victim of chronic Hepatitis B, utilisation of antiviral medicines such as Lamivudine, telbivudine, adefovir, is a must since it is the only available option that hinders the rampant multiplication of the virus. It is recommended to visit your doctor for a prescription since all patients of chronic Hepatitis B may not have to use the drugs. With multiple blood and liver tests, your doctor will be able to identify the extent to which the virus is active inside your body and whether or not it is rapidly multiplying in your liver, which is the cause of liver damage in the event of this infectious disease.
If the HBV has spread beyond control inside the body and has caused permanent damage to the liver, then the last resort at the patient’s disposal is to opt for a liver transplant. There are, however, various complications and factors to consider evaluating if the patient is suitable for a liver transplant. This is why it is recommended for the victim of Hepatitis B to give frequent visits to doctor for regular testing and analysis.