Managing hepatitis B virus

Managing hepatitis B virus

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Dear Doc,

I will like to thank you for your weekly write-ups on health matters. I was diagnosed with hepatitis B virus in August 2012 and I thought the end had come because of what I had read about this disease.

I read that there is no cure for it and that it is more deadly than HIV. I did a lot of tests in Lagos State University Teaching Hospital. I also read your write-ups about hepatitis B virus.

In 2014, I participated in the free seminar you organised on World Hepatitis B Day. I prayed as a Christian and I started using the prescribed drugs, especially the drug prescribed in November last year till February this year.

By His grace, last March, I went to two hospitals to do fresh tests on hepatitis B and the results were negative. Help tell Nigerians that hepatitis B Virus is curable if they follow the advice of the doctors and believe God for healing. Thanks.

This is a true life story of a Nigerian, Mr. A.O. and he can be reached via temidara2000@yahoo.com for confirmation of his story.

My response to the sender of the e-mail was first to rejoice with him over the good news, but I gave him a word of caution that hepatitis B virus treatment and cure are not as simple as portrayed.

It involves a series of specialised tests such as liver enzymes monitoring, hepatitis B quantifications, viral loads and, above all, specialist consultations, treatments and serial follow- ups, all of which take time.

The place of prayer cannot be overemphasised. As doctors, we also pray for our patients and also encourage our patients to pray concerning their illnesses, as God is the greatest physician of all times.

Every year, for the third year running, I have been writing on hepatitis B Virus in this column in order to educate Nigerians about the condition. I organise free seminars yearly with support from organisations like the Strategic Health Insight.

I have been at the forefront of the campaign against infection of hepatitis B Virus; and while I tell readers that I am not a consultant hepatologist, my role as a public health physician is to let the public know what to do to remain uninfected for life and to assist those that have been infected to know what to do in order to avoid getting to the stage of the complications, like liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.

hepatitis B is a type of virus that infects the liver. In most cases, the virus will only stay in the body for around one to three months. This is known as acute hepatitis B. In about one in 20 cases in adults, the virus will stay for six months or longer, usually without causing any noticeable symptoms. This is known as chronic hepatitis B.

Chronic hepatitis B is particularly common in babies and young children. Children infected in early childhood will develop the chronic or long-term infection. Most adults that acquire the infection in adulthood get rid of it within six months.

The simple explanation is that most adults with chronic hepatitis acquired it during childhood without being aware.

Transmission

These same people who are carriers of the virus unknowingly transmit it to other people around them, hence increasing the prevalence of the virus among other Nigerians.

hepatitis B can be spread through blood transfusion, blood contacts and body fluids such as semen and vaginal fluids, so it can be caught during unprotected sex, including anal and oral sex, when sharing needles to inject drugs such as heroin, etc.

Symptoms

It takes between 40 days to six months for any symptoms to develop after exposure to the virus. Many people don’t realise they have been infected with the virus because the symptoms may not develop immediately, or even at all.

The major symptoms are feeling sick, being sick, lack of appetite, flu-like symptoms, such as tiredness, general body pains, fibromyalgia (a rheumatic condition characterised by muscular or musculoskeletal pain with stiffness and localised tenderness at specific points on the body), headaches, yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice).

Risk factors

The following groups of people are at risk of contracting hepatitis B Virus: people who inject drugs, people with multiple sexual partners, people who obtain tattoos through unsterile instruments, people who have had blood transfusion, health workers, etc.

Diagnoses

Hepatitis B is diagnosed by a blood test that shows a positive reaction to hepatitis B surface antigen (HBSag), a liver function test. This is a blood test that measures certain enzymes and proteins in the bloodstream, which indicates whether the liver is damaged. It will often show raised levels infected with the hepatitis B virus.

July 28th is World Hepatitis Day. The Strategic Health Insight, in marking this year’s World Hepatitis Day 2015 has announced a one-day free seminar for the public, entitled, “hepatitis B Virus is closer than you think.”

Date: Saturday, August 1, 2015. Please, call 08188343865, 08186549147 or visit www.the-hospitals.com for details.

Kindly Visit my blog: www.doctoradesanya.blogspot.com for more.

To be concluded.

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