Hepatitis is the condition in which the liver cells (Hepatocytes) become inflamed. It is a condition presented in various diseases. Hepatitis is of five types, A, B, C, D & E.
Hepatitis B, is a serious liver infection caused by the Hepatitis B Virus (HBV). It can be acute (manifesting severe symptoms and lasts for a few weeks or chronic (presenting no symptoms, but lasts for more than 6 months with severe implications in the long term).
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
- Dark Urine
- Abdominal Pain
- Body Ache
- Nausea & vomiting
- Mild fever
- Loss of appetite
- Cirrhosis over a period of time in chronic cases
- Skin rash or lesions.
CAUSES & RISK FACTORS OF HEPATITIS B
- Exposure to;
- Infected blood, by coming in contact with a carrier
- Infected body fluids
- By having unprotected sexual intercourse
- By coming in contact with infected needles
- Reuse of infected needles
- Blood transfusion
- Use of IV street drugs
- In pregnant women infected with the virus, transmission to the offspring can occur
- Travel to countries with a high infection rate.
COMPLICATIONS OF HEPATITIS B
- Chronic hepatitis can lead to liver cirrhosis & therefore cancer.
- Can in severe acute cases lead to a condition called acute liver failure
- HBV has been linked to the development of high amount of protein loss in the urine, fluid retention and kidney failure.
- Formation of vasculitis & necrosis in arteries.
- Inflammation of the kidneys (nephrons)
- Blood tests – conducted to detect the presence of HBV antigen(proteins) in the blood or the corresponding antibodies (IgM & IgG) produced by the host in its presence.
- Liver ultrasound is conducted to assess the damage caused to the liver.
- Liver Biopsy – A part of the liver tissue is taken to assess for scarring.
- Knowing history of a suspected patient, if there is any history of drug use, sexual history or transfusion.
TREATMENT FOR HEPATITIS B
- Although medication cannot completely clear the infection, they can certainly reduce the viral replication.
- Antiviral drugs like lamivudine, tenofovir & entecavir.
- Interferon therapy, like interferon alpha-2a injections, taken thrice a week.
- In severe and progressing disease, liver transplant is the only available option.
PREVENTION & MANAGEMENT
- Vaccine for HBV exists & is regularly given by health bodies.
- HBV vaccine is the most effective method for preventing infection of Hepatitis B.
- Above all, in pregnant women, tenofovir when given along with HBV vaccine in the second or third trimester reduces the risk of transmission from mother to child by 77%.
- Practice safe sex by using protection.
- Testing of blood before transfusion.
- IV recreational drugs should not be used.
- Getting tattoo or piercing, from responsible artists who used sterilized needles.
- Checking yourself for sexual infections if you are regularly involved in sexual intercourse.