Clínica dental

Living With Hepatitis B – Fight It On All Fronts

[título_original] – Nueva actualización 2023

Somos un pequeño grupo de apasionados profesionales de la odontología que han estado escribiendo artículos para el público durante más de 10 años. Nuestra misión es proporcionar información precisa y actualizada sobre la salud bucal para que las personas puedan tomar decisiones informadas sobre su atención dental.
Sabemos que una excelente salud bucal es esencial para la salud y el bienestar general, y estamos comprometidos a ayudar a nuestros lectores a lograr y mantener dientes y encías saludables.

“I have lived with the hepatitis B virus for years, it’s terrible living with the disease hanging over my head. I first received the diagnosis upon a pre-employment check, it’s a chronic disease that is treatable but has no cure. At that time, I felt that I was suddenly facing an enemy on several fronts — fight it within the body, mentally inside my mind, whilst protecting my family and others in the outside world. Is there anything to make my life easier?” John, 32, worries about his infection.

 

Obviously, it can be challenging and frustrating living with chronic illnesses such as chronic hepatitis B infection. But fortunately enough, we know more than ever the ways to live well with chronic hepatitis B. Here’s what you need to know more and how to live well with it.

 

What is Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B infection causes inflammation of the liver due to a virus (HBV). By and large, it can range from mild disease that lasts for a few weeks to being a chronic disease. In brief, HBV transmits through infected blood and body fluids. That is to say, the infection can occur through unprotected sex, sharing of infected needles, transfusion of blood, and from mother to her newborn.

 

Hepatitis B Panels – Three Parts Testing & Diagnosis

For a start, to know your hepatitis B status, your doctor will order the three parts blood panel tests:

#1. Hepatitis B surface antigen(HBsAg): is a protein on the surface of the virus. It is found in someone with the infection. The body usually make antibodies to HBsAg.

#2.Hepatitis B surface antibody(HBsAb): this antibody is formed in response to the virus. For instance, you will get the antibody if you receive vaccination or recover from a previous infection. If your test is positive for the antibody, you are immune to the virus and has long term protection against the disease.

#3. Hepatitis B Core Antibody(HBcAb): This antibody does not protect you against the virus. A positive test only indicates that you have previous exposure to hepatitis B virus.

 

What Will Happen to Me?

Most people are asymptomatic after getting the infection. Most of them will recover by developing the antibody against the virus. After they recover, they are not contagious to others anymore and will not get the HBV infection again. However, some people will not recover, developing a chronic HBV infection. This means your immune system was unable to get rid of the virus and you are still harbouring the virus in the blood and liver. A chronic hepatitis B infection may stay a lifetime. The danger is that it can possibly lead to liver damage (cirrhosis) and liver cancer.

 

How Do I Know If I Have Chronic Hepatitis B?

You are diagnosed with chronic hepatitis if you test positive for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) for more than 6 months. This means that you are not immune to the virus and it can stay for a long time in your body. You should have a liver specialist to monitor your condition regularly.

 

Chronic Hepatitis B Treatment

There is no complete cure for chronic hepatitis B. Having said so, with advances in medicine, we can slow down the progression of liver injury and reduce the likelihood of liver cancer with medication. Examples of medication include Pegasys   (PEGylated Interferon), Intron A (Interferon Alpha), Epivir HBV (Lamivudine), and Baraclude (Entecavir).

 

How Can I Prevent The Spread of Hepatitis B Virus?

If you have hepatitis B, it’s important to take precaution to prevent the spreading of virus to others. Here are some tips:

  • Encourage your sexual partner and people who you are close with to get tested for HBV, they should get vaccinated if they do not have the virus.
  • Practice safe sex such as using condom.
  • Do not share needles and syringes.
  • Do not share razor, toothbrush, dental floss and other personal items with others.
  • Bandage your open cuts or wounds until it is fully healed.
  • Never donate blood, semen, body organs.
  • If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor about the risk of transmitting the disease to your baby. Your doctor might recommend you taking antiviral medications before giving birth to reduce passing the virus to your baby. The risk can also be reduced by giving your baby vaccine and hepatitis B immunoglobulin.

How to Live Normally With Hepatitis B?

Fortunately, there are many ways to live a healthy life even with chronic hepatitis B. The most important thing you can do is to have regular checkup with your doctor, usually twice a year. They will run some investigations such as blood tests, physical exam and ultrasound imaging of the liver to detect any liver damage. Do not be complacent, skipping regular monitoring with your doctor puts your health at great risk of developing liver damage and cancer which could potentially be avoided.

Avoid or limit alcohol intake. Alcohol does more harm than good to your already weakened liver. Eating a healthy diet is another way to maintain a healthy liver. So, try incorporating more greens into your diet which is good for your liver. Avoid uncooked shellfish as they might contain bacteria which is very liver toxic.

Check with your doctor before taking any new medications which can be harmful to your liver. Get the hepatitis A vaccine to protect your liver. You should also get tested for hepatitis C, HIV, and other sexually transmitted diseases.

 

hepatitis b sexually transmitted prevention

Photo by umbrella shot from Flickr

 

Conclusion

In the world, 292 million people are silently suffering from Hepatitis B with very high incidence in S E Asia as it is endemic in this region. Having a chronic infection shouldn’t be a barrier that prevents you from living a healthy and normal life. With deliberate effort and care, you can deal with it and maintain a healthy normal life.

 

References:

1. Hepatitis B [Internet]. CDC. 2020. (Available from:  last updated on 2020 Jun 22; last accessed on 2020 Jul 11)

2. Living with hepatitis B [Internet]. Hepatitis B Foundation. 2020. (Available from:  last accessed on 2020 Jul 11)

 

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Somos un pequeño grupo de personas apasionadas que han estado escribiendo artículos dentales durante los últimos años. Creemos que una buena salud oral es la clave para una vida feliz y saludable. Nuestro objetivo es proporcionar información precisa y actualizada sobre todos los aspectos de la odontología para que nuestros lectores puedan tomar decisiones informadas sobre su salud bucal.
Sabemos que elegir un dentista o un tratamiento dental puede ser abrumador, pero esperamos que nuestros artículos ayuden a que el proceso sea un poco más fácil.
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