Leading a healthy life in spite of being positive for Hepatitis B:
Hepatitis B (Hep B) is viral infection affecting the liver. It is caused by Hepatitis B Virus (HBV). Many people who are diagnosed to have chronic hepatitis B have a question – “I am hepatitis B positive – How do I cope with living with Chronic Hepatitis B?” “How long can you live with Hepatitis B?” or “Can Hepatitis B patient live a normal life?”:
If you are diagnosed to have Hep B, blood tests for different antibodies can detect if your infection was recent or an old one. After an initial Acute infection when the individual is not able to totally get rid of HBV even after 6 months, he is said to have Chronic Hep B. Most individuals with chronic Hep B live a normal symptom-free life. But they still have HBV in their blood and can pass this infection on to others through blood and sexual contact. Once you have been handed this Chronic Hepatitis B diagnosis, here is what you need to take care of:
Progressive liver damage caused by HBV can cause liver complications like liver cancer, liver cirrhosis, and liver failure. Your doctor will advise to undergo following tests to keep a check:
- To detect presence of Virus (called antigen): HBsAg & HBeAg
- To detect presence of antibodies to the virus: Anti HBc, Anti HBe and Anti HBs (antibodies against Hep B virus core particles, virus envelop particles and virus surface particles)
- Liver function test (LFT): SGOT, SGPT, and Bilirubin indicate if the liver is functioning normally.
- Ultra-sonography of abdomen: To check for any structural changes in the liver
- Viral load/Quantitative HCV RNA test: To know how much of the virus is present in the body
Preventing the spread of infection to others :
Along with being cautious for your own health, as a part of one’s moral responsibility, Hepatitis B positive patients should make conscious efforts to prevent transmitting the infection to one’s family members and sexual partners. This can be done by:
- Best measure to ensure safety of your family members against HBV is getting them all vaccinated against HBV
- Items of personal hygiene should be kept separately so that those who stay with you will not even accidentally share your tooth brush or razor.
- Sanitary tampons used during menses should be wrapped thoroughly before disposing them off.
- Never allow your family members or friends to touch your wounds. Any cuts or sores on the body should be kept covered under the bandage.
- Never donate blood, semen or any body organ
- Precautions to be taken while tattooing and body piercing: It is very important to give prior intimation of Hep B positive status to the professional doing body piercing or tattooing so that the needles or blades used for you can be disposed off and will not be used on others.
One also needs to know that the virus does not spread via:
- A cough or sneeze droplets
- Although the virus is present in weak concentrations in saliva, sweat, breast milk and urine until now there is no strong evidence which suggests the spread of the virus through these body fluids unless they are contaminated with infected blood. Thus HBV doesn’t spread by casual contact, hugging or kissing.
- HBV doesn’t spread through food or sharing utensils like cups or cooking vessels or plates etc.
Precautions to prevent spread of HBV to your spouse or sexual partner
HBV is present in seminal as well as vaginal fluid making the spread of the virus to one’s partner possible via vaginal and anal sex.
- Use barrier methods of contraception like condom/diaphragm
- Get your partner vaccinated against Hep B as soon as you are diagnosed.
Prevention of Hep B virus from mother to neonate/infant:
- Two vaccines which are presently given to prevent transmission from a mother to her child are HBIG and H B vaccine. These two vaccines should be given within 12 hours of birth to a neonate born to Hep B positive mother.
- HB vaccine is given in three doses. The first dose is given simultaneously with HBIG. 2nd & 3rd dose of HB vaccine are given at age of 1 month & 6 months.
Precautions against over the counter drugs: Every medicine that you take is ultimately metabolized by the liver. Hence never go for any medicine suggested by anyone else than a doctor. Any herbal medicines should also be strictly avoided unless prescribed by Doctor.
Precautions to be taken in case you are diagnosed to have liver damage:
- Say no to alcohol: Alcohol consumption in excess is an independent risk factor for liver cirrhosis, liver failure & liver cancer. When patients of Hep B regularly consume alcoholic beverages in excess, it will definitely accentuate the further damage to liver. Say no to alcohol/ limit the alcohol consumption to small quantities on few days.
- Avoid eating out side food: Eating raw oysters should be avoided as they can be the source of bacteria Vibrio Vulnificus. Also outside food can be the source of food infection/gastritis/hepatitis A. Any of these diseases superimposed on already infected liver will definitely cause further harm to the liver
- Vaccines: Outside food can be the source of Hepatitis A virus (HAV) which spreads via contaminated water or food. Hep A Vaccines will protect you from catching HAV infection. Vaccines against flu and pneumonia should also be taken to prevent dual infection.
Homeopathic treatment is very promising for patients with Chronic Hepatitis B in terms of improving in liver functions and arresting further damage to the liver to prevent complications like liver cirrhosis. At Lifeforce Homoeopathy Dr. Shah has researched a new Homoeopathic medicine which has proven extremely beneficial to all patients at Lifeforce clinic. To know more leave us your contact details below or get in touch with us +91-22-66888888 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or click here.
– Written by Dr Mugdha Patil, Associate Doctor to Dr Rajesh Shah, Team LifeForce