Of all the viruses that ravaged humanity throughout history, after AIDS, hepatitis stands as the most disturbing and gruesome virus. It derives its lethality from its ability to start asymptomatic and turn chronic over the years. Hepatitis is a family of viruses that affects the liver leading to liver cancer in late stages, making it life-threatening. Hepatitis infections can be both acute and chronic. Hepatitis B is a virus of the hepatitis family that affects the liver, leading to cancer over a long time. According to WHO, the transmission rates of HBV have not been reduced since the no vaccination era of the 2000s.
Many cases are asymptomatic when newly affected by HBV. Some people may develop a simple illness with the following symptoms.
- Jaundice, where the eyes and skin turn yellow
- Dark urine
- Extreme fatigue
- Vomiting and pain around the liver area
- Small chance of liver failure leading to death
The most common and prominent ways of transmission, causing the disease in uninfected people are mentioned below.
- Infected mother to the child remains the most common way of transmitting the virus (perinatal transmission).
- Exposure to the blood of patients is the next most common way of transmission in children
- Needlestick injury
- Piercing of the ears
- Exposure to body fluids like vaginal, menstrual, saliva, and seminal fluids
- Sexual transmission in homo sex is more very highly prevalent along with people having sex with multiple partners and sex workers
The virus has a survivability period of 7 days. The virus stays active during this period and can infect those who come in contact with it. It has an average incubation time of 75 days, ranging from 30 to 180 days. It can be detected within 30 to 60 days of the first infection.
It is clinically impossible to distinguish Hepatitis B from other hepatitis family viruses. You have to get a laboratory inspection of the blood sample. Several blood tests can be done to distinguish the chronic and acute stages of the hepatitis B virus. The blood sample is tested for the presence of the HBsAg surface antigen of hepatitis B. Acute infections reveal the presence of the HBsAg and the antibody to an antigen, HBcAg. The presence of HBeAg indicates the multiplicity rate by the virus in the body. A person with high levels of HBeAg is highly infectious. The presence of HBsAg antigen for more than six months indicates that the disease is chronic. HBsAg antigen is the prime cause of liver cancer.
Acute infections are not treated. Acute infections are cured by taking proper nutrition and care. Unnecessary medication such as Acetaminophen and paracetamol for vomiting should be avoided. They need to take more fluids to replace the lost fluids.
Hepatitis B medicines for the chronic stage are oral antiviral medication such as tenofovir and entecavir. They are common side effect drugs that you can consume one pill a day. They require less monitoring because of fewer side effects Treatment can improve life expectancy and the risk of developing cirrhosis. Hepatitis B can be prevented by vaccination, which is safe, available, and effective.
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