#1: WHAT IS HEPATITIS?
Hepatitis is a medical condition with the infection and inflammation of the liver. Humans have been proven to be the only source of infection. A number of conditions cause Hepatitis, especially the hepatitis viruses: A, B, C, D and E. Other causes include bacteria, alcohol abuse, some drugs (like paracetamol) and autoimmune disease conditions.
#2: WHAT CAUSES HEPATITIS B?
Entry of infected blood, semen, or other body fluids into the body of a previously uninfected person. Modes of entry include sex (oral, anal, vaginal), mother-to-child transmission (childbirth), pricks from infected needles (as seen among health personnel, tattoo artists, and intravenous drug abusers), toothbrushes, cuts from infected razors, or contact with fresh wounds and sores. It is high among homosexual men.
#3: HOW DO I KNOW I HAVE HEPATITIS B?
Most people don’t have symptoms so I’d recommend you get tested to know for sure if you are infected or not. However, the following symptoms could suggest an acute infection: fever, headaches, vomiting, fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, muscle or joint pains, preceding yellowish colouration of eye, dark urine (and stools), and abdominal pain. Suffice it to say, majority of people with this infection show no symptoms and can proceed to spread the virus without even knowing they are doing so! It, however, cannot be contracted by sharing utensils, kissing, hugging, sneezing, coughing, or breastfeeding.
#4: DOES YELLOWISH EYES MEAN I HAVE HEPATITIS B?
No! There are other causes of yellowish discolouration of the eyes, like sickle cell disease, other liver conditions, and some other medical conditions. This should, however, prompt you to go get tested to know for sure you do not have it.
#5: HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF FROM HEPATITIS B?
Gladly, there is a vaccine for hepatitis B; so why not go tested and get it?! In addition, its proved that the vaccine delivered within 24 hours of exposure may prevent infection. Medical personnel should observe universal precaution religiously; and since its mainly transferred through sexual contact, (I’ll add this bit), be faithful to your partner or if you must engage in sexual activities, use condoms.
#6: CAN HEPATITIS B BE CURED?
Yes, if detected early and treated promptly. But it’s been shown that in about 5-10% of infected people, it may progress to chronic infection or a persistent carrier state—which continues for life.
#7: ARE THERE HERBAL TREATMENT FOR HEPATITIS B?
Hmmm…there are some herbal formulations created by the Chinese for treating hepatitis B, but it’s advantage over the conventional antivirals (commonly prescribed by clinicians) has not yet been proven. Most treatment for acute cases are supportive.
#8: HOW CAN I CARE FOR SOMEONE WITH HEPATITIS B?
First, make sure they get to a doctor who would diagnose the condition and begin treatment and stay faithful to those treatment. They could also benefit from vitamins and minerals which can be gotten from natural sources like fruits and vegetables…and lots of rest.
#9: DOES HAVING IT MEAN I AM GOING TO DIE?
No o! You only need to see a doctor and get treated.
#10: WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF THIS INFECTION?
The consequences include re-infection, liver failure, and transformation to a cancer (especially for people who where infected at an earlier age).
JUST WALK INTO ANY HOSPITAL, RUN A HEPATITIS TEST AND GET VACCINATED. SIMPLE.
Dr. Ogecha Akor
IBB Specialist Hospital, Minna.