Hepatitis B does not spread through sneezing, coughing, hugging and breastfeeding. This infection is spread the same way the virus that causes (HIV) is spread but hepatitis B is 50 – 100 times infectious. Individuals living with this disease, live with an increased risk of developing liver disease later in future, and are advised to see the doctor every 6 months or even more often.
There is actually no cure for Hepatitis B, but it is very easy to prevent, in different ways like having safe sex or getting the hepatitis B vaccine. Hepatitis B only leave the body, if the body is able to fight it off. Hepatitis B infection may be acute or chronic.
Acute Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B is considered acute if the infection lasts six months or less. Adults can get rid of the virus without treatment. Infants, children, and adults with symptoms require treatment. The treatment is simple and does not require medications. However, if the symptoms are severe, an antiviral medication may be prescribed which includes:
- Drinking increased fluids
- Following a healthy diet
- Avoiding drugs or alcohol
A follow-up blood test should be done immediately, once home treatments are done,to determine if the hepatitis B is still in the body. If the result turns out negative, then there is no hepatitis B. The chance of another infection is rare because there are protective antibodies in the blood. But if the result shows positive, and has been more than six months since the diagnosis, hepatitis B is still present and considered a chronic infection.
Chronic hepatitis B: This occurs when the virus is still present in the body after six months. There are no symptoms, but the infection can still be passed to others. Even though there are generally no symptoms, hepatitis B causes liver damage. Once the liver is damaged, symptoms will appear. The symptoms are the same as for an acute infection but very severe. One common symptom of liver damage is jaundice.
Regular blood tests and doctor visits are necessary to determine the activity and presence of hepatitis B. Antiviral medications, a liver biopsy, or even a liver transplant may be needed if there are signs of liver damage. Chronic infection may go undetected for decades until a person becomes seriously ill from liver disease.
Precautions to avoid HBV
- Know the HBV status of your partner: Don not engage in unprotected sex unless you’re sure your partner isn’t infected the virus or any other sexually transmitted infection.
- Condoms: if you don’t know the health status of your partner, and condoms can reduce risks of contracting HBV, but always remember, they do not eliminate the risk.
- Illegal drugs: If you use illegal drugs, try and stop. If you can’t stop, use a sterile needle each time you inject illicit drugs. Make sure you don’t share needles.
- Avoid Piercings and Tattoos: If you want to get a piercing or tattoo, look for a reputable shop. Make sure the artists use sterile needles, or better still to be on a safer side, do not get tattoos especially.
- Ask about the hepatitis B vaccine before you travel. If you’re traveling to a region where hepatitis B is common, ask your doctor about the hepatitis B vaccine in advance. It’s usually given in a series of three injections over a six-month period.
Itching all over the body
Pain around the liver (on the right side of the abdomen, under the liver rib cage)
Jaundice (a condition which the skin and eyes color turn yellow)
Pale colored stool (grayish or clay colored)
Causes of Hepatitis B
Sharing unsterilised needles