A fatal disease that takes up one life every 30 seconds globally and something that the World Health Organisation itself is trying to eliminate by the year 2030. Hepatitis is an infection which can lead to liver inflammation causing serious illness and liver damage including liver cancer and cirrhosis. A chronic disease with irreversible damage Hepatitis-B goes unnoticed in many cases. Let us go a little further and understand what Hepatitis-B actually is along with its types, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, prevention tips and various ways in which the virus spreads by Dr. Vidyasagar Ramappa, Consultant, Gastroenterology, Columbia Asia Referral Hospital, Yeshwanthpur.
What is Hepatitis-B?
Hepatitis-B is a liver infection that is caused by a virus which travels to the liver through the bloodstream. Being a chronic disease with potentially serious consequences Hepatitis-B affects people of all age groups and can cause liver inflammation that might lead to liver damage and other serious illnesses like liver cancer and cirrhosis that can eventually cause death.
Being an irreversible liver damage that goes unnoticed in almost 90% of the cases Hepatitis-B latches up on the liver and starts getting multiplied within the patient's body. At the initial stages one must not observe any symptoms of the disease but as it goes severe the multiplied virus starts attacking the person’s immune system which hosts the body’s immune response leading to various liver diseases and inflammation.
What are the different Types of Hepatitis-B?
Hepatitis disease has two main types depending upon the severity of the disease. In the first 6 months or in the initial stage it is known as Acute Hepatitis B as the chances of recovery are higher at this stage whereas the disease is said to be chronic after 6 months of getting infected as it might last for life time and cause diseases like liver cancer and cirrhosis that eventually leads to death.
What are the symptoms of Hepatitis-B?
Hepatitis-B is a chronic disease that can lead to many further complications including liver inflammation and death causing diseases like cancer and hence it is important to observe the symptoms at an early age and get the required treatment in order to save a person’s life.
Different types of Hepatitis-B have different symptoms depending on the severity of the disease.
Symptoms of Acute Hepatitis-B
As this is the initial stage of the disease t it is better to look out for these symptoms and treat them at the earliest to stop the virus from multiplying itself and triggering the immune system in order to save the patient’s life. The symptoms of Acute Hepatitis-B are-
- Joint and Muscle pain
- Loss of Appetite
- Abdominal Pain
Symptoms of Chronic Hepatitis-B
A lot many people who suffer from chronic Hepatitis-B do not observe any symptoms at the initial stage but become the carrier of the disease and can potentially infect other people through the exposure of body fluids. Some of the common symptoms of Chronic Hepatitis-B are-
- Joint Pain and Muscle ache
- Irritability and tiredness
- Pain in upper right abdomen
- Lack of appetite
How to Diagnose Hepatitis-B?
The diagnosis of Hepatitis-B can be done through the means of a simple blood test which helps to detect the protein on the surface of a virus called Hepatitis-B surface antigen. If the test results come out to be positive then some other tests are carried out to check the severity of the disease in the patient and to check the degree of damage and inflammation which has been caused by the virus to the liver.
How does Hepatitis-B get transmitted?
Hepatitis-B is not an airborne disease and does not spread or transmitted through the simple acts of touching, eating together or handshakes but through the exposure to the body fluids of the diseased person. The most common ways in which Hepatitis-B gets transmitted from one person to the other are-
- Sharing vaccination, tattoo or piercing needle with the infected person.
- Being bitten by the infected person.
- Unprotected sex
- Through medical treatment with contaminated equipment.
- From mother to newborn at the time of delivery.
- Sharing personal items like nail cutters and razors.
What kind of treatment can a Hepatitis-B positive person opt for?
It is important to seek the advice of a medical expert or your doctor if you have even the slightest doubt about being exposed to the virus. In case you have an acute form of hepatitis-b then you might be advised to take a healthy diet, consume lots of fluids and take ample rest in order to fight off the infection as in most cases a medical treatment is not required at the initial stage. In this case it is important to consult your doctor before taking any kind of medication, supplements or herbal treatments as all this can potentially damage your liver. Consuming alcohol at this stage can be dangerous as it can damage your liver even further and cause inflammation.
If a patient is suffering from chronic Hepatitis -B that means has been infected by the virus for a period of 6 months or more then he/she might be prescribed an antiviral medication treatment in order to stop the virus from multiplying and reducing the risk of severe and more fatal diseases in the coming future. This medication might go on for years but can help the infected person to repair the liver damage to some extent.
Precautions For Hepatitis-B Prevention
Here are some prevention tips suggested by our expert Dr. Vidyasagar Ramappa, Consultant, Gastroenterology, Columbia Asia Referral Hospital, Yeshwanthpur that can help you to stay healthy and away from the disease.
- Do not practice unprotected sex
- Ensure the use of clean and disposable needles and syringes.
- Get tattoos and piercings from a place that practices and standard hygiene protocols.
- Do not share your personal care items like razors and toothbrushes.
By now we all have understood the importance of vaccinations and getting vaccinated. The best way to prevent Hepatitis-B and all the complications that come along with it is to get vaccinated. The Hepatitis-B vaccine is the most effective, safe and easily available way to safeguard yourself from the disease.
A commonly used way to prevent the transmission of Hepatitis-B from mother to the newborn is through injecting the antibodies into the system of the child at the time of birth as the chances of transmission are higher at the time of delivery than at the time of pregnancy.
Prevention tips to be followed after getting exposed to the virus
There are some prevention tips that can be followed even if you are not vaccinated against the disease and have been exposed to the virus. It is advised to visit your doctor immediately and take a test if you even have the slightest of the doubt of getting infected by the virus. Your doctor might conduct a blood test and give you a shot of an antibody injection called immunoglobulin which will prevent the infection from developing any further.
With inputs from Dr. Vidyasagar Ramappa, Consultant, Gastroenterology, Columbia Asia Referral Hospital, Yeshwanthpur
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