- Hepatitis B is a viral infection that attacks the liver and can cause both acute and chronic disease.
- The virus is transmitted through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person - not through casual contact.
- About 2 billion people worldwide have been infected with the virus and about 350 million live with chronic infection. An estimated 600 000 persons die each year due to the acute or chronic consequences of hepatitis B.
- About 25% of adults who become chronically infected during childhood later die from liver cancer or cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) caused by the chronic infection.
- The hepatitis B virus is 50 to 100 times more infectious than HIV.
- Hepatitis B virus is an important occupational hazard for health workers.
- Hepatitis B is preventable with a safe and effective vaccine.
Hepatitis B is a potentially life-threatening liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus. It is a major global health problem and the most serious type of viral hepatitis. It can cause chronic liver disease and puts people at high risk of death from cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.
Worldwide, an estimated two billion people have been infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV), and more than 350 million have chronic (long-term) liver infections.
A vaccine against hepatitis B has been available since 1982. Hepatitis B vaccine is 95% effective in preventing HBV infection and its chronic consequences, and is the first vaccine against a major human cancer.
Causes of Hepatitis-B
Hepatitis B infection is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). The virus is passed from person to person through blood, semen or other body fluids. It does not spread by sneezing or coughing.
Common ways that HBV can spread are:
- Sexual contact. If you have unprotected sex with someone who is infected. The virus can pass to you if the person's blood, saliva, semen or vaginal secretions enter in body.
- Sharing of needles. HBV easily spreads through needles and syringes contaminated with infected blood. Sharing IV drug paraphernalia puts you at high risk of hepatitis B.
- Accidental needle sticks. Hepatitis B is a concern for health care workers and anyone else who comes in contact with human blood.
- Mother to child. Pregnant women infected with HBV can pass the virus to their babies during childbirth. However, the newborn can be vaccinated to avoid getting infected in almost all cases. Talk to your doctor about being tested for hepatitis B if you are pregnant or want to become pregnant.
Symptoms of Hepatitis-B
Hepatitis B virus can cause an acute illness with symptoms that last several weeks, including yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), dark urine, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
People can take several months to a year to recover from the symptoms. HBV can also cause a chronic liver infection that can later develop into cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer.
Hepatitis B virus is transmitted between people by contact with the blood or other body fluids (i.e. semen and vaginal fluid) of an infected person. Modes of transmission are the same for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), but HBV is 50 to 100 times more infectious Unlike HIV, HBV can survive outside the body for at least 7 days. During that time, the virus can still cause infection if it enters the body of a person who is not infected.
Common modes of transmission in developing countries are:
- Perinatal (from mother to baby at birth)
- early childhood infections (in apparent infection through close interpersonal contact with infected household contacts)
- unsafe injections practices
- blood transfusions
- sexual contact
HBV is not spread by contaminated food or water, and cannot be spread casually in the workplace. The virus incubation period is 90 days on average, but can vary from about 30 to 180 days. HBV may be detected 30 to 60 days after infection and persist for widely variable periods of time.
Prevention of Hepatitis-B
All infants should receive the hepatitis B vaccine: this is the mainstay of hepatitis B prevention.
The vaccine can be given as either three or four separate doses, as part of existing routine immunization schedules. In areas where mother-to-infant spread of HBV is common, the first dose of vaccine should be given as soon as possible after birth (i.e. within 24 hours).
All children and adolescents younger than 18 years old and not previously vaccinated should receive the vaccine. People in high risk groups should also be vaccinated, including:
- persons with high-risk sexual behavior
- partners and household contacts of HBV infected persons
- injecting drug users
- persons who frequently require blood or blood products
- recipients of solid organ transplantation
- those at occupational risk of HBV infection, including health care workers and
- International travelers to countries with high rates of HBV
Homoeopathic Treatment of Hepatitis-B
With homeopathic medicines, the cases of hepatitis B can be controlled very well, these medicines work to the immunological level. Complications of hepatitis B are
- Chronic hepatitis
- Liver failure
- Hepatic cellular carcinoma
Homeopathic treatment can help in delaying the complications and the disease process is kept under check with symptomatic relief. The general health is improved very well on these homeopathic medicines without any side-effects. Taking homeopathic medicines for longer duration helps improve immunological levels and the disease can be kept under control.
Homeopathy is strongly recommended in cases of hepatitis. These medicines have proved the efficacy in treating a wide range of viral infections.