Why You Must Take The Hepatitis B Vaccine
Hepatitis B virus is what causes the infection and the virus can be found in blood and body fluids. Generally the virus is spread because of unprotected sex as the virus can be found in semen and vaginal fluids. The virus may also be spread by using infected needles as the virus can be found in the infected person’s blood. Hepatitis B is commonly seen in India and is also common among drug users. The Vaccination is available and should be given to newborns, children, and teens and is safe for pregnant women. Also adults who are likely to contract hepatitis B should get the vaccine.
Acute hepatitis B
Acute hepatitis B is a condition where infection is short term and the symptoms last up to 6 months. Also at times the body fights off the infection killing the virus.
Chronic hepatitis B
Chronic hepatitis B is a condition where infection is long lasting and occurs when your body isn’t able to fight off the virus. The chances of developing chronic hepatitis B are higher if an individual is infected with the hepatitis B virus as an infant or as a young child
Symptoms of Hepatitis B:
When people are contracted with this infection sometimes they have no symptoms. Although people with chronic hepatitis B do not develop symptoms even till decades after getting infected until complications start to develop. Also some people having an acute hepatitis B infection can have symptoms within 2 months to 5 months after being exposed to the virus. These symptoms may include
- Dark yellow coloured urine
- Tire-some feeling
- Gray coloured stools
- Pain in the joints
- Appetite loss
- Abdominal pain
- Jaundice where an individual has yellowish eyes and skin
- Using or coming in contact with infected needles
- Using or coming in contact with infected body piercing or tattooing tools
- Coming in contact with an infected person’s blood or open sores
- Using or coming in contact with infected things like razor, toothbrush or nail clippers
- Born to a mother having hepatitis B
- Unprotected sex with an infected person or a person having HIV.
- Medical history
- Physical exam such as changes in skin colour, or tenderness or swelling in the abdomen, lower part of the legs, feet, or ankles
- Blood tests to find out if an individual is infected and if the infection is chronic or acute. It also helps in determining if there is a possibility of liver damage with people diagnosed with chronic hepatitis B.
- Liver Ultrasound or liver biopsy in cases of chronic infection.
Typically doctors treat patients having chronic infection. All cases of the infection do not need treatment as the body may fight off the virus and the infection goes away. Doctors prescribe medicines after blood tests come in for the patient which will indicate if there is a chance of having the liver affected by the infection.
The best way to prevent contracting Hepatitis B infection is to get vaccinated against the virus. The vaccine is safe for pregnant women and can be given to adults too who can be vulnerable to get the infection. Although newly borns and children of young age should definitely be given the full course of vaccination.
Also a few important points should be kept in mind as a part of lifestyle choices:
- Do not share any needles.
- Always wear gloves if another person’s blood or open sore(s) needs to be touched.
- Make sure to sterile the tools used by a tattoo artist or a body piercer.
- Remember not to share any of the personal items such as toothbrush, or razor.
- Never to have unprotected sex.
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