There are very few unforgettable days in my life and the day I found out I was hepatitis B positive was one of them. Weighing in at over 3 pounds, your liver is one of the largest organs you have. It’s also one of the busiest. For instance, it’s your liver that converts the nutrients in foods you eat into substances your body can use. It helps produce the proteins that help your blood clot. And thanks to your liver, your body can produce up to 1,000 ml — over 4 cups — of bile each day. This yellow-green digestive liquid breaks down and helps your body absorb fats.
Long story short, a liver that works well is vital to your health, and one of the biggest threats to it is an inflammatory condition known as hepatitis. Perhaps this knowledge I had was the reason I entered a complete state of shock and silence as I sat at the medical lab that afternoon and listened to a man tell me I was hepatitis B positive.
There are five types of hepatitis, which are A, B, C, D, and E, but Hepatitis B and C are considered more the chronic types of hepatitis. Nigeria, with an estimated population of 190 million people, has a hepatitis B prevalence of 8.1% and an estimated 257 million people are living with hepatitis B worldwide.
Hepatitis B (HBV)Once I had gotten out of my state of shock, I picked up my phone to quickly goggle what Hepatitis B was all about and as I read through I kept muttering to myself I’d be fine, that all would find but I wasn’t. I was far from fine. My heart did lots of backflips and somersaults once I read that it wasn’t curable and by the end of that day, I had gotten quite knowledgeable about this ailment I had just been diagnosed with and I’d try to summarize some of that knowledge here as much as I can.
You can’t get this strain of hepatitis by eating a bad salad. HBV is only transmitted through blood or other body fluids. If left untreated, HBV can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer, each of which can be potentially fatal which I’d be talking more on much later in this write-up. But here’s what makes HBV tricky to catch: Many people don’t have symptoms. An example is me, In fact, I think I was looking way healthier than I had ever looked at the particular time found out I was positive.
So I kept wondering, how do I look and feel this healthy and yet be told I’m sick?. I also got to find out that only 25 percent of adults are vaccinated against this disease.
What you need to know though is:
HBV isn’t new — not by a long shot. Last spring, researchers from the University of Cambridge in England found an extinct strain of the virus in remains of Bronze Age skeletons across Europe and Asia. As I continued to scroll through the many information goggle was spilling out that afternoon, I finally found something that made me sigh in relief. There’s a vaccine!!.
A vaccine for HBV has been available since the 80s and when administered correctly, is 95 percent effective. But “because it requires 3 shots over 6 months, only 50 percent of people get the last shot,”.Over six months, they forget about it.”
Last year though, a new HBV vaccine was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. HEPLISAV-B is the only 2-dose HBV shot for adults, both of which can be completed within a month.
There was even more reason to be optimistic. I read as well that in the next five years, there would probably be a cure. I was so close to shouting hallelujah as I read that line. Most adults with hepatitis B recover fully, even if their signs and symptoms are severe. Infants and children are more likely to develop chronic (long-lasting) hepatitis B infection.
A vaccine can prevent hepatitis B, but there’s no cure if you have the condition like I have stated. If you’re infected, taking certain precautions can help prevent spreading the virus to others.Who Can Have Hepatitis B?Anybody could be at risk of hepatitis B; adult or children.
Symptoms Of Hepatitis B(HbV)Signs and symptoms of hepatitis B range from mild to severe. They usually appear about one to four months after you’ve been infected, although you could see them as early as two weeks post-infection. Some people, like myself, and usually young children, may not have any symptoms.
Hepatitis B signs and symptoms may include:
-Fever-Joint pain-Loss of appetite
-Nausea and vomiting-
-Weakness and fatigue
-Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice).
I didn’t have any serious symptoms except I felt sick and now that I think of it, yes, there was slight fatigue. I simply felt it was due to stress and nothing more. When to see a doctor?
My mom was the major reason I had gone to the hospital the day I did and found out I was Hbv positive.
Being the very health-conscious person that she is, she enforced that I go to the hospital when I complained about feeling sick. Since then, I have decided I’d be doing a yearly medical check-up just to be sure all is good.
I do recommend this to everyone too!. Prevention is always better than cure. However, If you know you’ve been exposed to hepatitis B, contact your doctor immediately.
Preventive treatment may reduce your risk of infection if you receive the treatment within 24 hours of exposure to the virus
CAUSES OF HEPATITISH B
Infection is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). The virus is passed from person to person through blood, semen, or other body fluids. It does not spread by sneezing or coughing.
Common ways that HBV can spread are:
-Sexual contact. You may get hepatitis B if you have unprotected sex with someone who is infected. The virus can pass to you if the person’s blood, saliva, semen, or vaginal secretions enter your body. So it’s important to let your partner know that you’re HBv positive.
-Sharing of needles. HBV easily spreads through needles and syringes contaminated with infected blood. Sharing IV drug paraphernalia puts you at a high risk of hepatitis B.
-Accidental needle sticks. Hepatitis B is a concern for health care workers and anyone else who comes in contact with human blood.Mother to child. Pregnant women infected with HBV can pass the virus to their babies during childbirth. However, the newborn can be vaccinated to avoid getting infected in almost all cases. Talk to your doctor about being tested for hepatitis B if you are pregnant or want to become pregnant.
There are two types of Hepatitis B. There are acute and chronic Hbv. Hepatitis B infection may be either short-lived (acute) or long-lasting (chronic). Acute hepatitis B infection lasts less than six months. Your immune system likely can clear acute hepatitis B from your body, and you should recover completely within a few months. Most people who get hepatitis B as adults have an acute infection, but it can lead to chronic infection.
Chronic hepatitis B infection lasts six months or longer. It lingers because your immune system can’t fight off the infection. Chronic hepatitis B infection may last a lifetime, possibly leading to serious illnesses such as cirrhosis and liver cancer.The younger you are when you get hepatitis B -particularly newborns or children younger than 5-the higher your risk of the infection becoming chronic. Chronic infection may go undetected for decades until a person becomes seriously ill from liver disease. Again, this is why frequent medical check-up is IMPORTANT!!!
Risk factors Hepatitis B spreads through contact with blood, semen, or other body fluids from an infected person. Your risk of hepatitis B infection increases if you:
-Have unprotected sex with multiple sex partners or with someone who’s infected with HBV.
-Share needles during IV drug use.-Are a man who has sex with other men.-Live with someone who has a chronic HBV infection.
-Are an infant born to an infected mother?
-Have a job that exposes you to human blood.-Travel to regions with high infection rates of HBV, such as Asia, the Pacific Islands, Africa, and Eastern Europe
Complications Having a chronic HBV infection can lead to serious complications, such as:Scarring of the liver (cirrhosis). The inflammation associated with a hepatitis B infection can lead to extensive liver scarring (cirrhosis), which may impair the liver’s ability to function.-Liver cancer.
People with chronic hepatitis B infection have an increased risk of liver cancer.
-Liver failure. Acute liver failure is a condition in which the vital functions of the liver shut down. When that occurs, a liver transplant is necessary to sustain life.
Other conditions. People with chronic hepatitis B may develop kidney disease or inflammation of blood vessels.
Prevention of The hepatitis B vaccine is typically given as three or four injections over six months. You can’t get hepatitis B from the vaccine. Be sure to get tested for Hbv before you take the vaccine. The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for:
-Newborns-Children and adolescents not vaccinated at birth.
-Those who work or live in a center for people who are developmentally disabled.
-People who live with someone who has hepatitis B. This is not discrimination, it’s being careful not to infect others. I personally had to be careful with a lot of things especially sharp objects and other personal hygiene. I wasn’t trying to infect my dear mother.
-Health care workers, emergency workers, and other people who come into contact with blood.
-Anyone who has a sexually transmitted infection, including HIV
-Men who have sex with men-People who have multiple sexual partners-Sexual partners of someone who has hepatitis B
-People who inject illegal drugs or share needles and syringes
-People with chronic liver disease
-People with end-stage kidney disease-Travelers planning to go to an area of the world with a high hepatitis B infection rate
Always take precautions to avoid HBV. Other ways to reduce your risk of HBV include:
-Know the HBV status of any sexual partner. Don’t engage in unprotected sex unless you’re absolutely certain your partner isn’t infected with HBV or any other sexually transmitted infection.
-Use a new latex or polyurethane condom every time you have sex if you don’t know the health status of your partner. Remember that although condoms can reduce your risk of contracting HBV, they don’t eliminate the risk.
-Don’t use illegal drugs. If you use illicit drugs, get help to stop. If you can’t stop, use a sterile needle each time you inject illicit drugs. Never share needles.
-Be cautious about body piercing and tattooing. If you get a piercing or tattoo, look for a reputable shop. Ask about how the equipment is cleaned. Make sure the employees use sterile needles. If you can’t get answers, look for another shop.
-Ask about the hepatitis B vaccine before you travel. If you’re traveling to a region where hepatitis B is common, ask your doctor about the hepatitis B vaccine in advance.
It’s usually given in a series of three injections over a six-month.
TREATMENT OF HBv
I started treatment once I got some tests done to find out how far the virus had gone into my liver and it wasn’t too much good news. Here is some treatment to prevent hepatitis B infection after exposure:If you know you’ve been exposed to the hepatitis B virus and aren’t sure if you’ve been vaccinated, call your doctor immediately. An injection of immunoglobulin (an antibody) given within 12 hours of exposure to the virus may help protect you from getting sick with hepatitis B. Because this treatment only provides short-term protection, you also should get the hepatitis B vaccine at the same time, if you never received it.
TREATMENT FOR ACUTE HEPATITIS B INFECTION
If your doctor determines your hepatitis B infection is acute — meaning it is short-lived and will go away on its own — you may not need treatment. Instead, your doctor might recommend rest, proper nutrition, and plenty of fluids while your body fights the infection.
In severe cases, antiviral drugs or a hospital stay is needed to prevent complications.Treatment for chronic hepatitis B infection
Most people diagnosed with chronic hepatitis B infection need treatment for the rest of their lives.
Treatment helps reduce the risk of liver disease and prevents you from passing the infection to others. Treatment for chronic hepatitis B may include:
-Antiviral medications. Several antiviral medications
– including entecavir (Baraclude), tenofovir (Viread), lamivudine (Epivir), adefovir (Hepsera), and telbivudine (Tyzeka) — can help fight the virus and slow its ability to damage your liver. These drugs are taken by mouth.
Talk to your doctor about which medication might be right for you.
Interferon alfa-2b (Intron A) is a man-made version of a substance produced by the body to fight infection. It’s used mainly for young people with hepatitis B who wish to avoid long-term treatment or women who might want to get pregnant within a few years, after completing a finite course of therapy.
Interferon should not be used during pregnancy. Side effects may include nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, and depression.
If your liver has been severely damaged, a liver transplant may be an option. During a liver transplant, the surgeon removes your damaged liver and replaces it with a healthy liver. Most transplanted livers come from deceased donors, though a small number come from living donors who donate a portion of their livers.
Other drugs to treat hepatitis B are still being developed. It’s important to note that Hepatitis B is not a death sentence. It’s very defeatable and can be well managed.
Many people have recovered and are still recovering. If you wondering if I did, yes!!. Just don’t give up and keep a healthy lifestyle up. Go and get tested now and don’t forget to tell someone, to tell someone to get vaccinated against hepatitis B.
Below is an image of a health Liver and one with Hepatitis. My writer friend will live to remain anonymous. Don’t blink, I folded it!