According to a very recent article by the Nigerian Journal of Clinical Practice, Nigeria has one of the highest burdens of viral hepatitis in Africa with an estimated 20 million individuals living with chronic hepatitis B infection.
The country also records more than 1.5 million cases of Hepatitis B per year. With the growing number of infected persons, Hepatitis B is obviously more of a concern now than it was years back. So what is Hepatitis?
What Is Hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B (HBV or Hep B) is a disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus. It is a serious infection that attacks the liver leading to inflammation of the organ and consequently, problems with the functions. For some people, hepatitis B infection becomes chronic, meaning it lasts more than six months.
READ ALSO: Tattoo Puts You At Big Risk Of Contracting Hepatitis – Medical Expert
How Is It Contracted?
Hepatitis B is spread through bodily fluids like blood, semen, and saliva. Broken skin around the mouth, genitals, and rectum as well as during childbirth from mother to child. Mums at birth and other persons who get unscreened blood transfusion are at great risk.
Hepatitis B is caused by the Hepatitis virus.
The disease is often times asymptomatic and that is one of the reasons why it is dreaded. Signs and symptoms of the infection also 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. Where symptoms are present, they vary and may include:
Some people, particularly children, don’t experience any symptoms. In chronic cases, liver failure, cancer or scarring can occur.
Is Hepatitis B Curable?
Whether or not hepatitis B is curable is confusing among the public but health professionals agree that most adults who are infected will recover fully, even if their signs and symptoms are severe. According to experts, symptoms will go away in a few weeks to months if your body is able to fight off the infection.
However, Some people never get rid of the HBV. This is called chronic hepatitis B. Summarily, there is no medical cure for HBV. However, there is a vaccine which can protect you from becoming infected with Hepatitis B.
Despite there being no medical cure for Hepatitis B infection, 95% of people who contract Hepatitis B as adults clear the virus from their bodies naturally within the first six months (acute phase) of the infection. Once you have cleared Hepatitis B, you become immune and cannot be reinfected. Traces of the virus will remain in your blood for life but this does not mean that you still have the infection.
Who Is At Risk?
You should consider a test for Hepatitis B if you have ever been at risk of exposure to the virus. This includes anyone who:
How Is Hepatitis B diagnosed?
If your doctor thinks you have it, he’ll give you a complete physical exam. He’ll test your blood to see if your liver is inflamed.
READ ALSO: HEPATITIS: WHO Enlightens People On How To Prevent Themselves From The Deadly Viral Infection
When To See A Doctor?
If you think you’ve been exposed to the virus, get to a doctor as soon as possible. The earlier you get treatment, the better.
There are a number of treatment options and your doctor may give you a vaccine and a shot of hepatitis B immune globulin. This protein boosts your immune system and helps it fight off the infection.
You’ll have to give up things that can hurt your liver, alcohol for example. Check with your doctor before taking any other drugs, herbal treatments, or supplements. Some of them can harm this organ, too. Also, eat a healthy diet.
Tags: Causes, Curable, Hepatitis B, symptoms, Virus
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