To create awareness about Hepatitis and its symptoms, the Delhi government celebrates December 4 as Hepatitis day annually. So what is Hepatitis B, what are its symptoms, treatment and how it can be prevented B - these are some of the questions we'll be answering.
Viral hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver, primarily due to infection. However, there are other possible causes too. Hepatitis infection is broadly divided into two categories — blood-borne B and C and waterborne A and E.
In this article, we'll be discussing Hepatitis B.
What is hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is a severe form of viral hepatitis transmitted through infected blood and causing fever and jaundice. This viral infection attacks the liver and can cause chronic disease.
Hepatitis B: Causes
The Hepatitis virus is commonly transferred from mother to child during birth. It can also be transmitted through contact with infected blood and other body fluids, such as saliva and, menstrual, vaginal, and seminal fluids.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Hepatitis B can also spread via piercings and tattooing.
Hepatitis B: Symptoms
Hepatitis B is a silent killer. Initially, most people do not experience any symptoms when they get infected. However, some people have acute illness with symptoms that last several weeks.
Some of the symptoms are;
Yellowing of the skin and eyes
Hepatitis B can lead to liver failure and even death.
In some cases, Hepatitis B can cause a chronic liver infection that can later develop into liver cancer. In fact, one in three persons affected with blood-borne viral hepatitis-B and C, are at risk of developing liver cancer.
When must you consult a doctor?
Whether you're aware that you've been exposed to Hepatitis B or you are experiencing the symptoms associated with the viral infection - contact a doctor pronto.
Is Hepatitis B preventable?
Yes, Hepatitis B is preventable. A safe and effective vaccine that offers a 98-100% protection against hepatitis B is available.
The hepatitis B vaccine is given as three or four injections over six months. Once you've taken the vaccine, you will be protected from Hepatitis B.
Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for
— Children and adolescents not vaccinated at birth
— People who live with someone who is infected with hepatitis B
— Health care workers who come into contact with blood
— Anyone who has a sexually transmitted infection, including HIV
— Men who have sex with men
— People with multiple sexual partners
— Sexual partners of someone who has hepatitis B
— People who inject illegal drugs
— People who share needles
— People with liver problem
— People with kidney disease
— Tourists planning to travel to places with high hepatitis B infection rate
Hepatitis B treatment
According to MayoClinic, an injection of immunoglobulin (an antibody) given within 12 hours of exposure to the virus may help protect a person from getting ill with hepatitis B (in case of exposure). However, this is merely short-term treatment. A shot of the hepatitis B vaccine is essential.
If a person has been diagnosed with chronic hepatitis B, the treatment will continue for the rest of his/her life.