Hepatitis B Causes And Risk Factors
Itâs caused by the hepatitis B virus, and it can spread from person to person in certain ways. You can spread the hepatitis B virus even if you donât feel sick.
The most common ways to get hepatitis B include:
- Sex. You can get it if you have unprotected sex with someone who has it and your partnerâs blood, saliva, semen, or vaginal secretions enter your body.
- Sharing needles. The virus spreads easily via needles and syringes contaminated with infected blood.
- Accidental needle sticks.Health care workers and anyone else who comes in contact with human blood can get it this way.
- Mother to child.Pregnant women with hepatitis B can pass it to their babies during childbirth. But thereâs a vaccine to prevent newborns from becoming infected.
Ask About Antiviral Therapy
Antiviral therapy may be an option for some people with HBV. Although it is not a cure, antiviral treatment can help reduce your risk of liver disease and other complications, as well as decrease the chances of spreading your infection to others. Several oral antiviral medications are available, all of which fight the virus and weaken its effects on your liver. Consult with your doctor about these drugs and whether they are right for you.
Get Educated About Hepatitis
A chronic condition can be difficult to fathom at first. But Rashmi Gulati, MD, medical director of Patients Medical in New York, says the facts about hepatitis are encouraging more than 99 percent of people with hepatitis C now survive, thanks to breakthroughs in lifestyle choices and antiviral treatments.
Considering this, its critical for patients with chronic hepatitis to be educated about their condition, says Amy Wood, PsyD, a psychologist who regularly counsels people with chronic hepatitis and the author of Life Your Way: Refresh Your Approach to Success and Breathe Easier in a Fast-Paced World.
New discoveries are made all the time, especially in the Internet age when researchers from every part of the globe are able to collaborate, so its important to keep up with whats happening, she says. In particular, stay informed about the latest treatment strategies and hepatitis diet recommendations. This can help you take new steps to manage your hepatitis symptoms when new treatments become available.
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How Long Does Twinrix Last: A Vaccine For Hepatitis
Viral hepatitis is the primary source of acute hepatitis in Canada. The hepatitis A infection is more prevalent in children and young people, while the hepatitis B infection is more widespread in individuals between 30 and 60. Fortunately, there is a vaccine called Twinrix. What is Twinrix, and how long does Twinrix last?
Hepatitis B Basic Information
Hepatitis B Basic Information. All medically stable infants weighing 2,000 grams are recommended to receive the hepatitis B vaccine within the first 24 hours following birth. Progress toward hepatitis B elimination has stalled. Since 2012, the rate of reported acute hepatitis B cases has ranged from 0.9 to 1.1 per 100,000 population.
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Complications Of Hepatitis B
In some people, chronic hepatitis can lead to cirrhosis of the liver. Cirrhosis occurs when the liver cells die and are replaced by scar tissue and fat. The damaged areas of the liver stop working and cant cleanse the body of wastes. Cirrhosis can lead to liver failure and even liver cancer.
If you have hepatitis B, you are also susceptible to hepatitis D . Hepatitis D can only develop in people who already have hepatitis B. It can make your symptoms of hepatitis B or liver disease worse. It is spread through contact with infected blood or other body fluids of people who have hepatitis D.
Living With Hepatitis: Dont Be Afraid
Dr Zhang*, a village doctor in Henan province in central China, knows first-hand how destructive hepatitis can be. His father died of liver cancer, most likely caused by undiagnosed hepatitis. Dr Zhang himself was born before hepatitis B vaccination was widely available and was not immunized against hepatitis B either at birth or as a child. He went on to develop a serious hepatitis B-related illness as an adult.
Babies infected at birth, as Dr Zhang may have been, have a much greater risk of a lifetime of chronic liver infections. The World Health Organization now recommends all children be vaccinated within 24 hours of birth, followed by 1-2 more doses within the first 12 months of life.
Dr Zhangs hepatitis went undiagnosed until well into his adult life when he became seriously sick with liver disease. Fortunately, he was able to travel to Beijing to access good medical care, including a course of the antiviral drug, entecavir. Following treatment, Dr Zhangs liver function returned to normal and the village doctor is now in good health.
Viral hepatitis is an insidious disease and a major public health threat globally. It is the leading cause of cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. In China, there are around 90 million people living with chronic hepatitis B, and almost 10 million people living with hepatitis C making China alone home to 25% of the worlds chronic viral hepatitis cases.
*Not his real name.
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Treatment For Suspected Exposure
Anyone who has had potential exposure to HBV can undergo a postexposure prophylaxis protocol.
This consists of HBV vaccination and hepatitis B immunoglobin . Healthcare workers give the prophylaxis after the exposure and before an acute infection develops.
This protocol will not cure an infection that has already developed. However, it decreases the rate of acute infection.
How Can I Avoid Getting Hepatitis B
There is a safe and effective vaccine that can protect you from getting hepatitis B. The vaccine is usually given in three doses over a six month period. The vaccine will give you long-lasting protection. A combined vaccine for hepatitis A and hepatitis B is also available.
Other ways to protect yourself or your loved ones include:
- Adopt safe sex practices.
- Avoid sharing personal hygiene items
- If you have been exposed to the hepatitis B virus , an injection of hepatitis B immune globulin may help protect you.
- If you are pregnant, make sure you are screened for hepatitis B. If the test result shows that you have the virus, make sure your baby receives the free hepatitis B vaccine. If you have hepatitis B, breastfeeding is safe if the baby has received both protective antibody called immune globulin, and the first dose of hepatitis B vaccine within the first 12 hours of life. Talk to your doctor about having your newborn immunized .
- If you decide to have a tattoo, piercing, manicure or pedicure, ensure that the facility uses single-use needles and inks and/or follows proper sterilization procedures.
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Can Hepatitis B Be Prevented
The hepatitis B vaccine is one of the best ways to control the disease. It is safe, effective and widely available. More than one billion doses of the vaccine have been administered globally since 1982. The World Health Organization says the vaccine is 98-100% effective in guarding against the virus. Newborns should be vaccinated.
The disease has also been more widely prevented thanks to:
- Widespread global adoption of safe blood-handling practices. WHO says 97% of the blood donated around the world is now screened for HBV and other diseases.
- Safer blood injection practices, using clean needles.
- Safe-sex practices.
You can help prevent hepatitis B infections by:
- Practicing safe sex .
- Never sharing personal care items like toothbrushes or razors.
- Getting tattoos or piercings only at shops that employ safe hygiene practices.
- Not sharing needles to use drugs.
- Asking your healthcare provider for blood tests to determine if you have HBV or if you are immune.
Say No To Smoking Drugs Or Alcoholic Drinks
Everything you put into your body whether you eat, drink, smoke, inject, apply, or breath it passes through your liver. The liver processes all substances and tries to metabolize or eliminate everything that is potentially harmful to your health, such as alcohol or drugs. If there are too many of these toxic substances, your liver becomes overworked.
So if you have hepatitis B, its crucial that you avoid any and all actions that are toxic to your liver.
- If you are a smoker, its time to quit. And if anyone around you lights up, move away in order to avoid inhaling secondhand smoke. People with hepatitis B are at a much higher risk for liver cancer when exposed to cigarette smoke.
- If you drink alcohol socially or to unwind at the end of a long day, even just the occasional glass of wine or bottle of beer can be problematic. Even moderate amounts of alcohol can increase your risk for liver complications.
- Recreational drugs will not only raise your chances of liver problems, but they also raise the risk of spreading hepatitis B through infected syringes or straws that have tiny droplets of blood on them.
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Causes Of Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is spread through contact with blood that contains the hepatitis B virus. If infected blood or body fluids enter another persons bloodstream, that person may become infected.
The time from exposure to the hepatitis B virus to the appearance of the illness is 45 to 180 days.
Risky activities that can cause infection include:
- Sharing unsterile or unclean equipment for injecting drugs.
- Piercing the skin with equipment that is not properly cleaned, disinfected and sterilised.
- Sharing razor blades or toothbrushes.
- Coming into contact with infected blood through open cuts or the mucous membranes of another person.
- Having unprotected sex , especially if there is blood present.
Mothers who have hepatitis B can pass the virus to their babies or children at the time of birth or after birth. If the newborn baby is quickly immunised with 2 vaccines, they can be protected from getting hepatitis B.
All blood and blood products produced for medical purposes in Australia are carefully screened for hepatitis B and other blood-borne viruses. The risk of getting infected with hepatitis B from a blood transfusion is extremely low .
How Common Is It
In 2006, the Public Health Agency of Canada reported the incidence of HBV as 2.0 cases for every 100,000 or about 650 cases reported annually in Canada. In the year 2013, the incident rate was 0.5 per 100,000 . Incidence of the disease varies from region to region but has been declining due to increasing use of the vaccine and universal immunization programs.
What Occupations Have Increased Risk Of Hepatitis B
In general, occupational groups with increased risk include:
- Health-care workers repeatedly exposed to blood or blood products or those who are at risk of needlestick injury.
- Pathologists, laboratory personnel, or embalmers.
- Dentists, dental assistants, and dental hygienists.
- Certain staff members of institutions for the developmentally handicapped.
- Staff of institutions where workers may be exposed to aggressive, biting residents.
Travellers to regions with intermediate or high rates of endemic HBV infection may also consider being vaccinated.
Who Is At Risk For Hepatitis B
Anyone can get hepatitis B, but the risk is higher in:
- Infants born to mothers who have hepatitis B
- People who inject drugs or share needles, syringes, and other types of drug equipment
- Sex partners of people with hepatitis B, especially if they are not using latex or polyurethane condoms during sex
- Men who have sex with men
- People who live with someone who has hepatitis B, especially if they use the same razor, toothbrush, or nail clippers
- Health care and public-safety workers who are exposed to blood on the job
If you have chronic hepatitis B, you may not have symptoms until complications develop. This could be decades after you were infected. For this reason, hepatitis B screening is important, even if you have no symptoms. Screening means that you are tested for a disease even though you don’t have symptoms. If you are at high risk, your health care provider may suggest screening.
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What Is The Outlook For People With Hepatitis B
The outlook for people with HBV is better now than ever before. You are certainly able to live a full life and help yourself stay healthy. You should make sure to have regular check-ups with a healthcare provider who is qualified to treat hepatitis B, possibly a liver doctor.
Make sure you are vaccinated against hepatitis A. Check with your healthcare provider or pharmacist before taking other medications or over-the-counter products, including supplements and natural products. These could interfere with your medication or damage your liver. For instance, taking acetaminophen in large doses may harm your liver.
Follow the usual guidelines for living a healthy life:
- Eat nutritious foods, choosing from a variety of vegetables, fruits and healthy proteins. It is said that cruciferous vegetables are especially good at protecting the liver.
- Exercise regularly.
- Dont smoke and dont drink. Both tobacco and alcohol are bad for your liver.
- Do things that help you cope with stress, like journaling, talking with others, meditating and doing yoga.
- Avoid inhaling toxic fumes.
Diagnosis Of Hepatitis B
Blood tests are available to determine if you are or have been infected with hepatitis B. It may take 6 months from the time of infection before a blood test can detect antibodies to hepatitis B, so follow-up testing may be required. During this 6-month period, until you know whether you are infected or not, take action to prevent potential infection of other people.
There are also tests that can assess liver damage from hepatitis B. The interpretation of these tests can be complicated and specialist advice is needed, so talk to your doctor.
All pregnant women are tested for hepatitis B. If you are found to have chronic hepatitis B, your doctor can help reduce the risk of transferring the infection to your newborn child.
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Is There A Cure For Chronic Hepatitis B
Currently, there is no complete cure for hepatitis B. But when managed properly, those living with the virus can expect to live a normal life. Maintaining a healthy diet and avoiding alcoholic beverages and tobacco products are crucial components in managing the disease.
You should also visit a doctor familiar with hepatitis B at least annuallythough twice a year might be best to monitor your liver through blood tests and medical imaging. As with most diseases, detecting it early leads to a better outcome. If youre exposed to the virus, you should get an antibody injection within 12 hours of exposure.
Living With Hepatitis: How To Stay Healthy
If you dont have access to treatment right now, if youve gone through the treatment and werent able to clear the virus or if youre infected with another virus such as HIV that can be harmful to the liver, there are several things you can do to help keep your liver healthier.
Youve got one viral infection your liver has to deal with. Prevent other viral infections that are known to harm the liver and are vaccine preventable.
Eliminate Harmful Chemicals From Your Body:A. ALL alcohol, in any amount, is harmful to your liver. Eliminate all alcohols from your diet.B. ALL illicit drugs are harmful to your liver. Studies have shown that the use of marijuana can cause the liver to progress to scarring sooner. It doesnt make any difference on how the drug is used , they are all harmful to your liver. Eliminate all illegal drug use. Talk with your provider or a counselor to identify ways to help you stop the use of any illegal drugs.C. Decrease polluted air that you breathe, such as: 1) Second-hand cigarette smoke 4) Smog
Get a Prescription Review:Have your doctor or pharmacist review all your prescribed medications to ensure that none of your medications are toxic for your liver. Ask your provider about alternatives to any medications that may harm your liver.
Use Over The Counter Medications Properly:Always follow the directions on the package, unless told otherwise by your medical provider.
Adults Living With Hepatitis B
If you test positive for the hepatitis B virus for longer than 6 months, this indicates that you have a chronic hepatitis B infection.
All patients with chronic hepatitis B infections, including children and adults, should be monitored regularly since they are at increased risk for developing cirrhosis, liver failure, or liver cancer.
You should make an appointment with a hepatologist or gastroenterologist familiar with hepatitis B. This specialist will order blood tests and possibly a liver ultrasound to evaluate your hepatitis B status and the health of your liver. Your doctor will probably want to see you at least once or twice a year to monitor your hepatitis B and determine if you would benefit from treatment.
Not everyone who tests positive for hepatitis B will require medication. Depending on your test results, you and your doctor might decide to wait and monitor your condition. If your test results indicate that you would be a good candidate for treatment, then your doctor will discuss the current treatment options with you. Whether you start treatment or not, your doctor will want to see you every six months, or at minimum once every year.
Before you start any treatment, make sure you research each treatment option, and ask your doctor to thoroughly explain each option, so that you are well informed. It also might be a good idea to get a second opinion from another doctor before starting any treatment, because more information is always better!