Hepatitis B infection is a global health concern with more than 300 million people affected worldwide. This number is projected to grow with 1.5 million new infections each year. This contagion claims over 800,000 lives annually due to liver cirrhosis and primary liver cancer. Free vaccination campaigns, mass testing, stemming from the world health organization to the specific country health ministries and a lot of awareness has been raised to mitigate the prevalence of Hepatitis B. The 28th day of July was particularly chosen as the World Hepatitis B day to raise awareness about this global concern.
Hepatitis is an inflammatory condition of the liver cells caused by Hepatitis B virus infection. This inflammation derails the functionality of the liver. Hepatitis B is a highly contagious viral disease, transmitted from one person to another through contact with blood and other bodily fluids like semen of an infected person. Although transmission occurs through body fluids, kissing, sneezing, coughing or breastfeeding does not contribute to the spread of this disease.
From the above infection pattern, the following priority groups are particularly at high risk of HBV infection.
- Health-care providers
- Sexual partners to HBV positive individuals
- Infants born to HBV positive mothers.
There are two forms of hepatitis B. Acute hepatitis occurs after initial infection and clears within weeks owing to the body’s immune defense system. On the other hand, chronic Hepatitis is the most fatal form of hepatitis. This is characterized by failure to recover from acute hepatitis within 6 months. Although extremely fatal, some people who are infected never feel sick, while others have symptoms lasting several weeks including muscle aches, stomach aches, mild fever, yellowing of eyes and brown urine.
Of utmost importance however is prevention. The Hep B vaccine is the best way to control this disease. With a success rate of 98-100%, every advocacy should be aimed at this. The vaccine is a 3 dose regimen covering all age groups, right from infants to the elderly.
Practicing safe sex using condoms, single use of needles, avoid sharing personal care items like toothbrushes, razors and nail clippers are some of the infection control practices. Although no definite cure for Hepatitis B exists up to date, a wide range of antiviral remedies have been developed to suppress the disease progression and ultimately improve the quality of life.
All intervention notwithstanding, supplementation, a nutrition and lifestyle change is key to a healthier life in cases of hepatitis B infection. Here are some of the choices you can make;
- Eat nutritious foods giving priority to vegetables and fruits. Cruciferous vegetables including cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli have shown advantage due to high levels of anti-oxidants
- Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol. These pose a big threat to your liver
- Exercise regularly.
You maybe Hepatitis B positive, but that’s not the end. You can pick positives out of it and live a happy life. Happy World Hepatitis day!