Understanding Hepatitis B

By Rukham Gul

Understanding Hepatitis B

Before getting information regarding hepatitis B, we must be familiar with the term Hepatitis. Hepa means liver and itis denotes inflammation or soozish (Urdu). Hence, inflammation of the liver is called hepatitis. Hepatitis can be caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites, chemicals, autoimmune, drugs or alcohol etc. Viral infection is the most common cause. It has various types but the type A, B, C, D and E are the most common of all. Hepatitis can be acute (sudden severe infection for a short duration) or it can be a chronic one (long lasting with or without symptoms). Hepatitis B and C can be both acute and chronic. Chronicity leads to liver cirrhosis (scar formation) and failure. In this article, we will try to understand the hepatitis B only.

Worldwide, 2 billion people, out of total 6 billion population of the world, have been infected with hepatitis B. 2 billion means 200 crore people and out of which 40 crores have a chronic illness. Remember this figure is double than our country's population. Out of that 40 crore, 10 lac people die each year either due to liver failure or due to liver Cancer. Now we probably have the general idea about the severity of this disease worldwide, let's see what is going on in Pakistan regarding hepatitis. Our country's 3% population is affected with hepatitis B, which means 60 lac Pakistanis!! But in some towns and villages it reaches up to 20%. 1 lac newly infected cases are reported each year and unfortunately thousands of Pakistanis die each year due to hepatitis B only. The best hope for eliminating hepatitis B is to start preventive measures right from the time of birth with vaccination of newly born child. This would also eliminate hepatitis D as hepatitis D is dependent on Hepatitis B. Let's discuss some symptoms of hepatitis B. It presents usually with fever, loss of appetite, vomiting, abdominal pain, grey colored stool, dark urine, joint pain, yellow eyes and generalized body pain can be the presenting complaint. These symptoms appear in adults 3 months after the exposure and last for weeks to months. It can be present without any obvious sign or symptom. So one should be conscious about the health and must be sure that he or she is affected or not. Simple is that we all should donate our blood once or twice a year, it requires screening before donation so that will give us the best information about our blood report of having viral infections or not. Well if someone finds hepatitis positive on the report, then proper care must be given to the situation because it may not be the life threatening news for us now but it can be in future if we don't take it seriously. Getting an appointment to the physician must not be the problem and we should not hesitate to go to a doctor. We can manage it very easily by simply vaccinating ourselves and other family members. For adults, hep B vaccine is given as a series of 3 shots over a period of 6 months. Entire series is needed for long term protection so don't skip the shots. If someone accidentally pricked by a needle or got blood to blood contact with the infected person, he/she need to follow the protocol: If he/she is vaccinated properly, then there is nothing to worry about and needs no treatment but if he/she isn't vaccinated against hep B, should get both Hep B immunoglobulin and Hep B vaccine at two different sites. And get yourself vaccinated within 7 days, it is recommended. We all are confused about the spread of this infection. People give misleading information. Some of the facts related to the spread are given here: It spreads by Blood, semen, sexual contact, sharing needles, syringes, razors and from an infected mother to the newborn. It doesn't spread by Breastfeeding, hugging, handshaking, kissing on cheeks, coughing, sneezing and contaminated food or water. So limited contact with the affected persons is safe and it gives them pleasure and encourages them to live happily. Don't ignore them it's not good ethically as well. If you have hepatitis, you must see a Hepatologist or general physician and must follow the instructions given by the doctor especially if you are pregnant, getting married or want to start a family. If you don't have hepatitis, say thanks to Allah and be careful regarding your health. Be caring to your family, relatives, and neighbors who are diagnosed as hepatitis B positive or any other disease. We should encourage them to go to doctors regularly and be aware of their disease status. If someone is economically unstable, advise him to go to local government hospitals because most of the treatments are given at low cost or some even free of cost. Outdoor patients department is always open for everyone and doctors are there to help the people and it's absolutely free. Health must be our first priority because if we aren't healthy we can't do our job at our best and we can't even provide good care to our family rather an unhealthy person becomes a burden on the society. So, it must be our utmost effort to give time to our health.

Reference:

  • Pakistan society for the study of liver disease by Dr wasim
  • General surgery by Mr. abdul wahab dogar
  • Principles of medicine by DavidsonReference:
  • Pakistan society for the study of liver diseae by dr wasim
  • General surgery by dr abdul wahab dogar
  • Principles of medicine by Davidson
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