What to know about hepatitis B
A man once volunteered to donate blood to his family member who needed blood transfusion. After doing all the necessary checks, the man was told that he was not qualified to do so and was asked to see the doctor for further examination.
On getting to the doctor, he was told he had hepatitis B. He was given medications and managed for six months. After that period, a repeat test was done twice and both came out negative.
The doctor first congratulated the patient, saying his own immune system got rid of the virus, and that his condition was called acute hepatitis.
A hepatitis B infection can result in either an acute infection or a chronic infection. When a person is first infected with the hepatitis B virus, it is called an “acute infection” (or a new infection).
Most healthy adults infected do not have any symptoms and are able to get rid of the virus without any problems. Some are, however, unable to get rid of the virus after six months and they are diagnosed as having a “chronic infection.” A simple blood test can diagnose an acute or chronic hepatitis B infection.
Hepatitis B is a global public health threat and the world’s most common liver infection. It is up to 100 times more infectious than the HIV/AIDS virus. It is deadly because the hepatitis B virus attacks and injures the liver. Two billion people, basically one in three people, have been infected worldwide.
Seeking medical attention if one doesn’t feel well or if one is uncertain about whether or not if one has been infected with hepatitis B. A simple hepatitis B blood test can easily diagnose whether or one has an infection. Testing is the only way to know for sure if one is infected.
Hepatitis B is called a “silent infection” because most people do not have any symptoms when they are first infected. Thus, they can unknowingly pass the virus to others and continue the silent spread of hepatitis B.
The common symptoms are fever, fatigue, unexplained weakness, muscle pain, joint pain, loss of appetite, mild nausea and vomiting, stomach pain, pale or light-coloured stools and dark-coloured urine. Serious symptoms that require immediate medical attention are severe nausea and vomiting, yellow eyes and skin (called “jaundice”), bloated or swollen stomach.
The hepatitis B virus is transmitted through blood and bodily fluids. This can most commonly occur in the following ways: Direct contact with infected blood, unprotected sex, use of illicit drugs, needles that are contaminated or not sterile, from an infected woman to her newborn during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. Also, body piercing, tattooing, acupuncture and even nail salons are other potential routes of infection unless sterile needles and equipment are used. In addition, sharing sharp instruments such as razors, toothbrushes, nail clippers, earrings and body jewellery can be a source of infection. Hepatitis B is NOT transmitted casually. It cannot be spread through toilet seats, doorknobs, and sneezing, coughing, hugging or eating meals with someone who is infected.
Everyone should be tested; if they have not been infected and have not received the hepatitis B vaccine then they should also start the vaccination immediately. In addition to vaccination, there are other simple ways to help to stop the spread of the virus. These are:
Washing of hands with soap and water after any potential exposure to blood; use of condoms with multiple sexual partners, non-direct contact with blood and bodily fluids.
Also, clean up blood spills with a fresh diluted bleach solution (mix one part bleach with nine parts water), cover all wounds carefully, avoid sharing sharp items such as razors, nail clippers, toothbrushes, and earrings or body rings. Discard sanitary napkins and tampons into plastic bags, using new sterile needles for tattoos and acupuncture.
Keep a date till next week as I conclude this piece with treatment of hepatitis B virus.
Meanwhile, July 28 every year has been designated as the World Hepatitis Day. The Better Life Medical Mission, an NGO, will on Saturday, July 29, organise a seminar in Lagos to mark the day. There will be health talks, counselling, hepatitis testing and screening, hepatitis B immunisation and opportunities for participants to join an hepatitis support group.
Call to participate and register on 09094638795 or 08186549147. Remember that anyone can be affected by the viral hepatitis and we all have a part to play to achieve its elimination. Kindly visit my blog www.doctoradesanya.blogspot.com for more on hepatitis B.