Valour Digest will be checking on the health challenges posed by hepatitis B. This edition will also proffer steps to help forestall incidences of the disease. Owing to the dangerous malignancy and limited public knowledge about the occurrence hepatitis B, it is worthwhile we talk about it.
A health expert contributor, Amaka Ugwueze offered Valour Digest her worth of experience on how to pay due attention to check this nagging problem.
This is her submission:
Hepatitis B is an infectious disease to the liver caused by Hepatitis B Virus (HBV). While it is true that some people develop signs and symptoms very quickly (acute), others may not notice the symptoms until it has done some damage to their bodies. However, it may take about 30-180 days for symptoms to begin.
Those with acute hepatitis B can start showing symptoms as early as a few days from transmission, but chronic hepatitis B takes a longer time to show but have serious complications. These complications may result to death.
Mode of Transmission
The modes of transmission include:
- Mother to child transmission during child birth
- Exposure to infectious blood fluids
- Sexual intercourse
- Intravenous drug use and acupuncture
- Blood transfusion and transfusion with other human blood products
- Re-use of contaminated needles and syringes etc.
A major risk factor is living together with an infected person. Yes, hepatitis B cannot be contacted from hugging, kissing and other forms of affection but it is worthy to note that this virus is 50-100 times more infectious than HIV. Contact with non-intact skin or mucous membrane with secretions of saliva containing HBV could lead to transmission of the infection. In other words, if someone that has a mouth sore kisses someone with HBV, there is a very high chance of contacting the virus of if someone with an injury touches the sweat of someone with HBV, then the virus could be transmitted.
Signs and Symptoms of Acute Hepatitis include:
- nausea and vomiting
- mild fever body ache
- dark urine
- general malaise
- and then progresses to jaundice
This could be resolved within a few days or become serious, resulting in death. However, chronic hepatitis poses future dangers like liver cirrhosis which may later progress to liver cancer.
Diagnosis, treatment and prevention of hepatitis B
We advise everybody to go for a hepatitis B test. Just like HIV, people should be aware of the dangers of this disease. Although, no medicine has been shown to clear the virus from the human system, they can stop the virus from replicating, thereby preventing further liver damage.
Chronically infected individuals with persistently elevated serum alanine aminotransferase, a marker of liver damage and HBV DNA levels are candidates for treatment.
Prevention of hepatitis B is by vaccination. Hepatitis B vaccine is available in hospitals. Children, as well as adults and those at risk, for example, health workers, family, friends, roommates of hepatitis B patients should go get vaccinated. Prevention, they say, is better than cure. Walk up to a hospital today; get tested for HBV just as you would for HIV. If negative, get vaccinated immediately. If possible, get help. Series of tests will be conducted and treatment commenced depending on the test result.
Abstain from sexual intercourse or use a condom to avoid spread of the disease.
Health workers and those at risk should also protect themselves using standard precaution like wearing of hand gloves, sterilization and disinfection, proper disposal of wastes, proper way of capping needles, stick injuries etc.
Health is wealth, they say. Go for routine check-ups, take lots of fruits and vegetables, less fat and carbohydrates, plenty of water and exercise to stay healthy.
By Amaka Ugwueze
Amaka Ugwueze is a registered accident and emergency nurse.