Undoubtedly sharing is caring but not when it comes to objects used for daily personal hygiene such as toothbrush or a razor.
Hepatitis B is a life-threatening viral infection that infects the liver causing acute and chronic liver diseases. It is caused by Hepatitis B virus, a double-stranded DNA virus which replicates by reverse transcriptase. Hepatitis B is the most prevalent among all other types of Hepatitis.
Hepatitis B is caused by the Hepatitis B virus which can spread through contact of blood and bodily fluids of an infected person.
- Sharing of personal items such as razors, toothbrush and medical needles from an infected person
- Piercing or tattooing from infected needles
- Having sex with an infected person
Hepatitis B doesn’t show any prominent symptoms, rather than commonly seen ones such as:
- Fever and headache
- Tired feeling
- Unwillingness to eat
- Dark stools and urine
- Stomach pain
- Ultimately jaundice when all other symptoms fade away.
Since Hepatitis B is an infectious disease, the first doctor a patient will consult is the General Physician. But it is important to know that a hepatologist specialist will help to diagnose the severity and treat your Hepatitis. For Hepatitis B, it is confusing because it is an infectious disease affecting liver which is a part of the gastro-intestinal tract.
A gastroenterologist or a GI doctor, is a specialist in GI functions and disorders of GI tract which includes the esophagus, stomach, pancreas, intestines, and the liver. A GI doctor fits wells as it covers a broad spectrum of functions and diseases. The key is to find a GI doctor who has an experience of treating patients with liver diseases specifically HBV. That’s why a hepatologist who specializes in treating particular diseases related to the liver is preferred. Hepatology is sub-specialty of gastroenterology, making it an obvious choice for the HBV treatment.
Since HBV is an infectious disease, an infectious disease specialist is a choice of doctor.
What’s this supposed to mean?
But specifically for Hepatitis B, a hepatologist or a GI doctor is recommended as HBV is an infection affecting the liver.
Also if the patient is a child, it is necessary to see a pediatric liver specialist. A patient’s age is crucial while selecting a specialist doctor.
A simple blood test is carried out on the patient if Hepatitis B is suspected. The blood test will determine if you had it or have it now. Also if you had a vaccine for HBV, a doctor can tell. If liver damage is because of HBV, a liver biopsy is carried out by taking a small sample of the liver.
With few simple preventive measures such as proper diet, fluid intake and plenty of rest; acute HBV will subside and fade away on its own. While on the other hand, chronic Hepatitis B patients need treatment for the rest of their lives.
Anti-viral medications will help fight the infection and slow down the damage to the liver.
Interferon injections are a synthetic version of substance which is produced by our own body as a defense mechanism.
Lastly, a liver transplant is carried out for the people with extreme liver damage. The liver transplant is suggested when the patient’s liver is inoperative and a deceased healthy liver or a donor is looked for.
• Practice safe sex. Always have protection. However, it is important to know that having a condom reduces the risk but doesn’t eliminate it.
• Never share personal items such as razors, toothbrush, etc. with anyone. It may carry the infected virus.
• If you are frequent with needles such as if you are diabetic or visit blood transfusion centres, always ask for new and packaged needle.
• Take care of yourself. Indulge in proper diet and nutritious food. Exercise and take care of your mental health too.
• Talk and meet friends and family. HBV doesn’t transmit through casual contact. They can be an excellent support system for you.
• Learn more about the disease and aftercare tips such as alcohol consumption, food intake, etc.