Hepatitis B is one of the common types of hepatitis that lots of people suffer from. It is spread by sexual contact or contact with infected body fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal secretions etc.
It is an infection in the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus HBV. The virus mainly affects the liver and spreads to its cells, the organs and results in an increased risk of cancer such as liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma). It is also the leading cause of cirrhosis.
If the immune system is strong enough, it can fight away the virus within few months.
Hepatitis B can be acute and can be chronic which can last for a very long time depending on the strength of the immune system.
Moreover, hepatitis B can be preventable by vaccines and can as well be treatable with antiviral medications.
In 2015, hepatitis B led to a death rate of 887,000 (eight hundred and eighty seven thousand) worldwide.
A worldwide estimate of about 400,000,000 (four hundred million) have been made to cover people suffering from the hepatitis B virus and the largest part here is Asia. In the United States, about 1,500,000 (one million, five hundred thousand) cases of hepatitis B are reported every year.
Also in Nigeria the same number of hepatitis B case in the U.S is also reported every year.
How Hepatitis B is Formed
At the initial stage, after the hepatitis B virus has been contracted, it passes through an incubation period which can be within 45 (forty five) days to 6 (six) months.
At this period, there are no clear symptoms.
If the immune system is unable to fight it at the initial period, it further develops into the acute hepatitis B which usually comes with noticeable viral signs and symptoms. Symptoms can be moderate discomfort, fulminant liver failure.
After the acute stage of hepatitis B, if the immune system is not still able to get rid of the virus it will further develop into Chronic hepatitis B.
Factors that trigger the risk of Hepatitis B
- Age: Age is one of the major factor that increases the risk of hepatitis B. In infants, hepatitis B will progress till the chronic stage. As one increases in age the risk of chronic hepatitis B decreases.
Moreover, between 20 and 50 percent of children and less than 10 percent of matured children in age progress from acute to chronic hepatitis B infection.
- Prenatal transmission: An infected mother with hepatitis B can transfer the virus to the baby during child birth.
- Exposure to Body Fluids: People in prisons, jail, health care workers are usually at an increased risk of being infected with hepatitis B virus because of their exposure to body fluids.
- Sexual activities: People with more than one sexual partner are at an increased risk of developing the hepatitis B.
- Sharp objects: The use of infected sharp objects such as syringe and needles can increase the risk of contracting the virus. This can happen by sharing medical facilities, tattooing equipment etc.
People that are at risk of contacting the virus are;
- People with multiple sex partners
- Health care workers that are exposed to various blood
- Hemodialysis patients
- People with close contacts with infected persons
Symptoms of Hepatitis B
- Anorexia- this is the loss of appetite caused by acute hepatitis B
- Dark urine
- Extreme tiredness or fatigue
- Loss of weight
- Light coloured stools
- Pains in the muscles and joints that my increase the risk of arthritis
- Headache and abdominal pain
- Sensitivity to light
- Sore throat
Effects of Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis B leads to liver cancer
- It causes liver failure
- Liver scarring called cirrhosis
Ways of Transmitting Hepatitis B
- By sexual contact
- Contact with infected body fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal fluid etc
- Sharing infected syringe and needles
- Mother to child transmission during birth
How Hepatitis B is Diagnosed
The doctor will conduct a blood test to check for the presence of anti-bodies containing the hepatitis B virus. The specific part is called HBsAG which means Hepatitis B Surface Antigens. The antigens are viral proteins.
The doctor will also examine an antibody called IgM anti-HBc which is very good for examining acute hepatitis B infection. The viral protein here is called core antigen.
In order to diagnose chronic hepatitis B infection, the doctor will conduct a diagnosis by measuring both the HBsAg and the antibody to the core protein called anti-HBc.
How to Control Hepatitis B in Pregnant Women
Study has shown that the most common mode of transmitting hepatitis B is by mother to child infection. Babies that are infected with hepatitis B have an increased risk of developing a serious liver disease or cancer in the future. It is necessary for pregnant women to test and take preventive steps to avoid the transmission of the virus to their children.
If a pregnant woman tests positive to hepatitis B, during delivery two shots of the hepatitis B vaccine should be administered to her. The first dose of the vaccine (5mcg dose) and one dose of hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG, 0.5 mL dose). These vaccines have to be available during delivery and be injected at different points during delivery.
If these vaccines are being administered correctly within the first 12 (twelve) hours of life, the newborn has 95% chance of not developing hepatitis B in future.
After delivery, the baby has to complete the vaccine according to the schedule as part of a three or four dose series. After this regular checkups should be carried out.
Natural Ways of Treating Hepatitis B
Diets: Diets is one of the best natural therapy for treating a lot of diseases. Eating diets with high antioxidants help to prevent inflammations and stimulate the immune system. Also eat foods that contains chlorophyll.
Cruciferous veggies such as cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
Fruits: Fresh fruits with high antioxidants help in liver cleansing and detoxifying eat fruits such as blueberry, strawberry, citrus fruits, goji berries, banana etc.
Nuts– Walnuts, flax seeds and chia seeds helps in boosting the immune system and fighting inflammations.
Herbs- Fresh herbs like ginger, basil, organo and parsley also helps in keeping the immune system stronger and improving liver health
Omega-3 fats- This as also remained one of the best natural therapy for treating various inflammatory disease and immune booster. Sources includes salmon fish, chicken liver, eggs etc.
Root veggies – They includes carrot, potatoes, beets etc.
Other natural therapy includes coconut oil, yogurt, cottage cheese, kefir etc.
Medical ways of treating hepatitis B includes the use of antiviral medications such as tenofovir, interferon.
It can also be treated by surgical operation through liver transplant.