What Is Hepatitis B ?
Hepatitis B is an infection which attacks the liver. It is caused by a virus called hepatitis B or HBV and can be transmitted from one person to another.
- Acute hepatitis B: When a person initially acquires the infection, they are in the acute stage. With treatment, most people can get rid of the virus and completely recover. This short-term phase is called acute hepatitis B.
- Chronic hepatitis B: However, some people cannot eliminate the virus, and the disease progresses into a long-term phase called chronic hepatitis B. The chronic hepatitis B damages the liver, can become potentially life-threatening and usually stays for life. Usually, when children who are below 6 years of age develop this disease, they are at risk of going into the chronic phase.
- Fulminant hepatitis B: Very rarely, in acute hepatitis B, the liver is damaged so badly that it cannot function. Such people have bleeding problems and may go into the coma. Liver transplant is considered in such cases.
Hepatitis B virus spreads from one person to another by contact with blood and other body fluids. The good news is that this disease can be prevented by a vaccine.
What Are The Symptoms Of Hepatitis B ?
People afflicted with hepatitis B may not be aware that they are infected because they do not suffer from any symptoms initially. Even if they exhibit symptoms, they are flu-like. Hepatitis B symptoms include:
- Mild fever.
- Loss of appetite.
- Feeling tired.
- Pain in the abdomen.
- Dark coloured urine.
- Skin and eyes appear yellow in colour (jaundice).
- Stools appear tan coloured.
Most people who have chronic hepatitis B do not have any symptoms.
What Are The Causes Of Hepatitis B ?
As mentioned, hepatitis B is caused by the hepatitis B virus. The virus is present in the body secretions of the infected person, like in the semen, saliva, vaginal discharge, breast milk, and blood. The disease is spread from one person to another in the following ways:
- By having sex with a hepatitis B person without using a condom.
- By sharing needles while injecting drugs with an infected person.
- Getting tattoos with needles which have not been sterilised.
- Coming in contact with infected needles during medical procedures.
- By using unsterilized needles in acupuncture.
- By sharing sharp equipment like razors with an infected person.
- A pregnant mother who has hepatitis B can spread the infection to her child during childbirth. The transmission of the disease to the baby can be prevented by giving it vaccines after childbirth.
Hepatitis B is not spread by casual contact like touching. Neither is it spread by hugging, kissing, sharing plates, food or drinks. Similarly, coughing and sneezing do not spread the infection.
What Are The Things One Should Do To Manage Hepatitis B ?
- The primary and important thing to do is prevention by the vaccine.
- The WHO suggests that all babies receive the vaccine for hepatitis B soon after their birth or at least within 24 hours of their birth.
- All adults who haven’t been vaccinated need to take it.
- Family members and close companions of an infected person should undergo tests to eliminate the risk.
- Wear plastic or rubber gloves if you have to touch blood.
- Make sure new needles are used for ear piercing, tattoos and acupuncture.
Dos for a hepatitis B person:
- Cover up all open cuts, sores, and wounds with a bandage to prevent others from coming in contact with your body fluids.
- Used Band-Aids, sanitary napkins, and other personal hygiene products have to be discarded safely to prevent exposure of blood to others.
- Any spillage of blood has to be cleaned thoroughly, preferably cleaned again with a bleach solution.
- Inform your sex partner about your infection. Partner has to be tested for possible infection of the virus.
- Use condoms during sex (if your partner is not infected).
- Inform your doctors about your condition.
- Go for check-up regularly to rule out liver abnormalities, including screening for cancer.
- If you are pregnant, inform your doctor that you are hepatitis B positive. It is very important that the baby is given shots soon after birth.
What Are The Things One Should Avoid To Manage Hepatitis B ?
If you are infected with hepatitis B, you should see that you do not spread the infection in any way to others. Some points to remember are:
- Do not share needles, razors, toothbrushes, chewing gum or anything which has a possibility of coming into contact with your blood or body secretions.
- Do not get a tattoo done if you are not sure whether the needles used are being sterilised.
- Do not share syringes and needles.
- See that the same immunization needle is not being used for the second time.
- Do not donate blood, plasma, sperm, egg, body tissue or body organs.
What Are The Best Foods For Hepatitis B ?
The liver has a very important role in the digestion of food. It metabolizes everything we eat, so a healthy diet is very important for this disease of the liver called hepatitis B. People with this disease are low on energy and feel tired; hence a fuel rich is recommended.
- Carbohydrates are fuel for the body. Complex carbohydrates with fibre like whole wheat, oatmeal, barley, rye, quinoa, and corn are excellent sources of energy.
- Vegetables and fruits should be a major part of the diet as they contain various easy to digest nutrients. They also contain antioxidants, which protect the liver cells. However starchy vegetables like potatoes should be eaten in lesser quantities. Avoid fruit juices as they may contain added sugar.
- Eating healthy proteins helps in repairing the damaged liver tissues. Healthy fruits are found in low-fat milk and dairy products, lean meat, fish, soy, beans, etc.
- Use healthy oil for cooking like olive oil, canola oil, flaxseed oil, etc. They contain healthy fats and are recommended for the recovery diet.
What Are The Worst Foods For Hepatitis B ?
- Avoid processed food as it is difficult for the liver to digest it. Processed and packaged foods are devoid of nutrients and are high in sugar and salt.
- Avoid butter, sour cream, high-fat dairy products, margarine, fatty meat and fried foods as these contain saturated fats which are bad for the liver.
- Avoid sugary foods like candies, cakes, pastries, ice creams, etc.
- Avoid alcohol and cigarettes during the recovery phase.
- Limit salt intake. Reduce eating packaged food, canned soups, fries, etc.
- Hepatitis B patient has to refrain from having too much caffeine. Tea, coffee and caffeinated beverages have to be avoided.
What Are The Medicines For Hepatitis B ?
What Are The Tips To Manage Hepatitis B ?
- Hepatitis B can be easily prevented by simple vaccination. Nevertheless, if you have acquired it, following the prescribed treatment, eating the right food, doing mild exercises and staying positive by yoga and meditation will help you in quick recovery.
- Some people suffer from itching during this infection. If you have itching, avoid going out in the sun, wear cool cotton clothes and apply some over the counter ointment for relief.