Protect yourself from hepatitis B virus – Get vaccinated 

Hepatitis B
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As infectious as hepatitis B virus is, it can be prevented. You can have a partner with this virus and still not be infected. A pregnant woman with hepatitis B virus can have a child free of the virus if necessary precautions are taken.

Let’s have a look at what Hepatitis B infection is 

Hepatitis B infection is caused by hepatitis B virus. The virus is highly infectious and has ‘special love’ for the liver. 

Its target when it gains entrance into the body is the liver. The liver is such an important organ in the body of humans. It is just by the right upper corner of the abdomen. It helps the body with processing, production and storage of food, drugs and other vital needs. The body needs this organ to survive. 

This virus enters the body and incubate. In some people, it causes acute illnesses. This means within few months of infection, they start to show symptoms. In some it causes chronic illnesses. 

Those with chronic illnesses do not show symptoms immediately, rather the virus continues to damage the liver. Symptoms in them start to show after the damage to the liver has affected its structure and function. The end result of this damage can even be liver cancer in some people.

The age at which an individual becomes infected can determine if he will likely have a chronic illness or not. Children who gets infected before 5years have higher risk while adults are at a reduced risk. This does not mean that adults that are infected can not have chronic illnesses, but at a reduced rate compared to those children infected below 5years.

How can an individual become infected with Hepatitis B virus?

For an individual to become infected with this virus, there must be contact with blood, semen or other body fluids. These can be through the following means:

  1. Sharing of sharp objects: when a needle that was used for an individual with hepatitis B is used for an uninfected person, he can become infected. Also if an infected person had a cut with blade, knife and other sharp objects and this gets in contact with your blood or an open wound, you can become infected.
  2. Blood transfusion: if blood infected with hepatitis B virus is transfused to an uninfected individual, he can become infected.
  3. Sexual intercourse: an individual that is not infected can become infected if he has sexual intercourse with someone that has the virus.
  4. Mother to child: a pregnant woman with the virus can transfer it to her baby during pregnancy and delivery. Please note that hepatitis B is not transmitted through breast milk as the amount present in it is not significant enough.
  5. Splash of blood: if infected blood splashes on the face of an uninfected person and finds its way into the eyes, he can become infected.

What are the symptoms you will notice in someone with Hepatitis B?

An individual may have hepatitis B virus without knowing. In some people it does not show any symptoms. They only become aware of their status during routine check-up. This implies that these set of people are carriers of this virus. The virus stays calmly in their liver without causing any damage although they can transmit the virus to another individual.

In those with symptoms, what will you notice?

  1. Yellowness of the eyes or skin.
  2. Pain in the right upper corner of your tommy.
  3. There may be swelling in the right upper corner of your tommy.
  4. Your urine may appear like coca cola.
  5. Your stool may appear lighter in colour.
  6. You may feel unwell.
  7. You may have fever.

What complications can arise from Hepatitis B infection?

Hepatitis B induces a process that destroys the liver in some people. This in turn can affect the function of the liver. It may also result in liver failure in severe cases. You need to also note that the damage to the liver can progress into liver cancer and subsequently death.

How can you prevent Hepatitis B infection?

You need to be immunized against this virus and before this vaccine can be administered, you have to test negative for the virus.

Also, if your spouse has the virus and you are negative, you need to be vaccinated to prevent being infected.

A pregnant woman who has hepatitis B must ensure the baby takes hepatitis B immunoglobulin within 72hours of delivery. She should also ensure the child takes the routine hepatitis immunization. The immunoglobulin will mop up the virus passed to the child while routine hepatitis immunization will build up his immunity to fight this deadly virus.


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Dr Kay
About Dr Kay 58 Articles
As a physician, I love to give answers to several questions bothering people, educating them on how to be healthy, breaking down what their present condition is all about and counselling them on how to manage their condition.

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