Last week I got a chance to visit a free health awareness workshop with my friends. The discussion was on the topic – How to protect yourself and your family from getting infected with diseases such as hepatitis B in the rainy season? The liver experts present there informed us that Hepatitis is a disease that affects the liver and all types of hepatitis show some kind of infection in the liver.
Hepatitis B is spread by a dangerous virus that causes infection and swelling in the liver and that’s how a person contracts hepatitis B. If this virus is present in the body, the immune system has to constantly protect the body from it. Although this virus is not always harmful, it can sometimes infect the liver to such an extent that it can be life-threatening. This virus can be of 2 types- active and dormant. In the dormant state, one needs to constantly get blood tests done and keep an eye on it while the active state is very dangerous and one needs to take medicines to get rid of the infection.
Doctors told us that most of the times, a person will notice no visible symptoms after getting infected with Hepatitis B. This disease does not have any initial symptoms and many times, the patient doesn’t get to know about the infection for a long time. This virus continues to stay in the body silently and keeps on weakening the liver. This may result in liver cancer or liver cirrhosis. Some of the early symptoms of Hepatitis B, which may not be identified are:
- Stomach ache, loss of appetite and tiredness
- Low fever along with pain in the muscles and joints
- Nausea and vomiting
- Yellowing of skin and eyes
- Dark yellow or black colored urine
The next slide showed that a blood test can tell which type of Hepatitis B has affected a person – acute or chronic. In case of an acute Hepatitis B, the infection starts decreasing and goes away within 6 months by taking medications. In the case of a chronic hepatitis, the virus shows up in your blood sample even after 6 months and this condition stays for the patient’s lifetime. Regular follow-up and medication is required in this case.
They gave us a few pamphlets and requested us to get more information from these. From these pamphlets we got to know that the causes of hepatitis b are similar to those of HIV. The causes include:
1) By Coming in Contact with Blood
The main reason for contracting Hepatitis B is coming in contact with the blood of a person who is already infected with Hepatitis B. The infection might be present in his/her saliva, used syringes, razor, toothbrush, which can also cause the infection. The acupuncture needle used for getting a tattoo may also cause the infection. One should also take care that if the patient needs blood, the blood should not be of an infected person.
2) Unprotected Sex and Drug Abuse
Having unprotected sex with a person infected with Hepatitis B is the biggest reason for the cause of Hepatitis B. Also, it can infect people who inject drugs, when they use a needle that is infected with Hepatitis B.
3) From Mother to her Newborn
4) Getting Dialysis for Long Duration
Doctors also advised that a healthy person should also get him/herself tested against hepatitis B through a blood test and even if they get a negative result, he/she should get the entire dose of the Hepatitis B vaccine since this is the best way to prevent it.
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