The growing repertoire of public health issues worldwide has made it clear that personal care is very important. There is quite a long list of viral diseases and Hepatitis B is one that many people know very little about. A lot of people are infected with this disease and are not even aware of it. So in case you are wondering what Hepatitis B is, I have got you covered.
Hepatitis B is a viral infection that affects the liver; it is one of the various liver inflammation diseases. Your liver performs metabolic activities in your body to help digestion through bile production. It also removes hormones, bilirubin (a product of broken-down, red blood cells), cholesterol, and medicines. your liver helps to filter toxins out of your body. The liver facilitates the breakdown between many other functions of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. So you see, your liver is really a big deal.
Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E are all classified as viral infections that affect the liver, although they are not caused by the same virus as each viral infection is caused by a unique virus. I will focus solely on Hepatitis B in this article.
How Do You Get Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B infection is contracted mainly through sexual contact with an infected person although there are other ways one can get infected such as sharing razors, or toothbrushes that have the blood of an infected person on them. Hepatitis infection can easily be transmitted from a mother to a baby during childbirth. This does not mean that Hepatitis B is a genetic disease. You can only be infected with this disease when you come in contact with the DNA molecules of an infected person. In some ways, it is similar to HIV/AIDs
Symptoms Of Hepatitis B
The symptoms of this disease are variable and sometimes show no symptoms at all, especially in children. Some commonly observed symptoms are pain in the abdominal region, dark-colored urine, and in some severe cases, liver failure, cancer, or scarring can occur.
Does Hepatitis B Have A Cure
Just like every other virus, as of today, Hepatitis B has no known cure. However, there are available treatment options that can help manage the disease and keep the virus under control so that it does not affect your liver. Most currently known viral infections are just managed to limit the viral load in the body of the affected person to a certain extent enough for the host's immune system to get rid totally or just keep at arm's length. It is best to see a doctor immediately if you suspect that you have been infected.
In order to effectively manage this disease, the phase at which the disease is would first have to be determined, and this can be done through the checking of the progressive history from infection to the disease in the victim. The phase or stage of infection is dependent on the host's immune system's interaction with the virus or its response to the presence of the virus. The natural history of Hepatitis B is categorized in four phases namely;
- Immune tolerance
- Immune clearance
- Inactive carrier
The Hepatitis B virus is not a cytotoxic virus, which means it does not affect or injure the liver. The immune system of the infected person is largely responsible for the infected person's injury. The host's immune cells and cytokines destroy the hepatocyte in an effort to clear the virus. As a result, liver damage is a self-inflicted injury in an infected person (by the immune system). The immune system accomplishes this by releasing ALT (alanine transaminase). ALT is an enzyme that is produced primarily in the liver and released into the bloodstream when the liver cells are damaged. The amount of ALT in the blood is measured by an ALT test.
Immune Tolerance Stage
Some people, particularly children who are infected with the Hepatitis B virus may not have problems with their liver, this is because their immune system has not identified the virus as a threat. Therefore, the virus keeps replicating and since the virus does not cause any harm to the body, there will be no need for medication at this stage.
Immune Clearance Stage
At this stage, your immune system recognizes the virus and starts to attack it by releasing an antigen known as HBeAg. This helps in reducing the level of the virus in the liver and could even lead to normalization. On the other hand, the attack on viral cells may affect your liver cells and cause scarring
The majority of people enter the inactive Hepatitis B process, where their viral load is either very low or undetectable. Inflammation and fibrosis in the liver have also improved. Adults in this stage usually have regular ALT levels and little inflammation. It's critical to double-check with your doctor that you do not have any signs of advanced liver disease. This stage could last a lifetime, a few decades, or even a few weeks. Keeping track of your medical tests at this stage is crucial for your long-term health.
People who are negative when tested for Hepatitis B antigen (HBeAg), may experience reactivation. ALT loads are elevated, Hepatitis B viral loads are above 2,000 IU/mL, and liver inflammation and fibrosis levels are moderate-to-severe.
Treatment of Hepatitis B
Treatment options vary depending on which type of hepatitis you have been diagnosed with since they are all caused by different viruses. You can prevent some forms of hepatitis like Hepatitis B through immunizations and lifestyle precautions. The goal of treatment for Hepatitis B is for sustained viral suppression, normalization of ALT, or improvement of liver histology.