Hepatitis B: A Silent Threat to Liver Health – World Hepatitis Day
Hepatitis B, a viral infection affecting the liver, remains a significant global health concern. On World Hepatitis Day, experts shed light on this condition, its transmission, and the potential risks associated with it. Hepatitis B can lead to liver cirrhosis and, in some cases, even liver cancer, making it crucial to understand and address the disease.
Understanding Hepatitis B: The Virus and Transmission
Hepatitis B is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV), a member of the Hepadnaviridae family. Among the five types of hepatitis viruses (A, B, C, D, and E), hepatitis B (HBV) poses a higher risk of chronic infection. Approximately 3-4% of people in India are affected by this virus, which is primarily transmitted through:
- Infected blood or bodily fluids from an infected individual
- Sexual contact with an infected person
- Sharing needles or syringes with an infected person
- Transmission from infected mother to newborn during childbirth or breastfeeding
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Hepatitis B infections can be asymptomatic, particularly in children who contract the virus at birth. In such cases, symptoms may not manifest until later in life, often leading to severe liver complications, such as cirrhosis, around the age of 25 or so.
For some individuals, the virus remains dormant in the body, while for others, it causes persistent liver inflammation and damage, potentially leading to liver cirrhosis or even liver cancer.
Common symptoms include fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice). However, many people may not experience noticeable symptoms, making regular screenings and testing essential.
Diagnosis and Prevention
Diagnosing hepatitis B involves conducting surface antigen testing on pregnant women’s blood to identify the presence of the virus. If an infection is detected, doctors administer a vaccine and immunoglobulin treatment to the newborn to prevent transmission.
Prevention is key to combating hepatitis B. Highly effective vaccines are available, and the use of condoms can reduce the risk of transmission. Early vaccination during infancy, as well as periodic booster shots throughout childhood and adulthood, offer significant protection against the virus.
Treatment for hepatitis B includes several antiviral medications. However, managing the disease effectively requires a thorough understanding of the individual’s medical history and condition. Consulting with healthcare professionals and adhering to prescribed treatment regimens can help control and manage hepatitis B effectively.
Hepatitis B is a global health concern with potentially severe consequences for liver health. Understanding the transmission, symptoms, and prevention strategies is essential to combat this silent threat effectively.
Regular screenings, early vaccination, and adopting safe practices are critical steps in safeguarding individuals from the risks associated with hepatitis B.
References: https://www.lokmat.com/sakhi/health/lifestyle-diseases/world- hepatitis-day-hepatitis-b-world-jaundice-day-what-exactly-is-hepatitis-b-can-infection-be-transmitted-through-physical-contact-experts-say-a-a741/