Hepatitis B: The Type "B" PersonalitySubmitted by SharpHealth Team on Sunday 10th October 2010
- What is Hepatitis B?
- Who is at risk for this disease?
- What are symptoms and treatment?
Hepatitis is an easily acquired disease that causes inflammation of the liver. Why is this a problem? Your liver harvests useful nutrients from the food you eat and eliminates toxins from your blood (from the alcohol you drink) — pretty important if you plan on attending anything on the calendar for next week. Liver cell damage may lead to cirrhosis (scarring) and even cancer.
This installment of the SharpHealth series on Hepatitis focuses on the "B" strain of Hepatitis. (For information on Hepatitis A, see Hepatitis A: The Type A Personality.)
The Facts on Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B (also referred to as HBV), which can be fatal, is the most common cause of acute hepatitis in adults living in the United States. It accounts for nearly 50 percent of all reported cases, affecting 300,000 new people every year. SharpMen between the ages of 29-39 are at greater risk than others.
HBV has an incubation period of 30-180 days, which is why it's often referred to as "long-incubation hepatitis."
How SharpMen Contract HBV
Like more commonly known sexually-transmitted diseases, HBV is easily spread by men and women who have multiple sex partners or engage in unsafe sex — another compelling reason to practice safe sex and use latex condoms. Since HBV can be found in numerous body fluids, it can also be transmitted by way of contaminated semen, urine, saliva, blood and other bodily fluids, in addition to certain insect bites.
Like Hepatitis A, HBV is increasing among patients who test positive for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and among those who fail to use clean needles for medicinal and recreational drug injections.
Because of HBV’s extended incubation period, and the fact that not all infected people develop symptoms of the disease, you may be exposing yourself to HBV without even knowing you’re at risk. The fact is, 200 million carriers spread HBV worldwide. Even if these people don't know they're sick, they can still spread HBV to you.
HBV Symptoms and Diagnosis
HBV develops gradually. As mentioned above, not every SharpMan or woman infected with the virus develops symptoms of the disease. Some of the symptoms may include:
- low appetite
- "wheals" (itchy red hives on the skin.)
- pain in the joints and muscles
- stomach aches
- jaundice (yellowing of eyes and, in Caucasians, evident yellowing of the skin)
- tea-colored urine
- clay-colored stools
- severe general itching
HBV is diagnosed by way of a blood test for the virus antibodies. Once the virus is identifies, additional testing is required to determine whether your version of the disease is acute (one-time) or chronic (reoccurring).
How You Can Avoid HBV
Perhaps the greatest safety measures against HBV is the practice of safe sex and safe contact with bodily fluids and needles. Remember that precautions with bodily fluids include having protected foreplay, and not sharing toothbrushes and razors.
It’s also a good idea to thoroughly wash your hands with hot soap and water before handling food and after using the restroom.
Maintain a vigilant attitude in all of your activities. Consider that HBV may be contracted through the use of unsterilized acupuncture, tattoo, ear-piercing or dental equipment. Gotta have that tat’? Check out the tattoo parlor where you plan to go — inspect the needles and tools. Don't be afraid to ask. What you don't know can hurt you.
When traveling to areas that present a risk of HBV infection, speak to your physician about the need for HBV inoculation. A series of three injections of the HBV vaccine within a six-month period will protect SharpMen for five years. This treatment is not effective for anyone with an impaired immune system or for those SharpMen who have already contracted HBV.
Finally, when traveling in high-risk areas, try to avoid blood-sucking insects and arachnids (especially in the tropics).
Treatment For HBV
If you believe you have contracted HBV, see a physician immediately. In addition to treatment, many physicians advise incorporating frequents naps to battle fatigue and cholestyramine, a drug also used to lower
cholesterol levels, to ease the severe generalized itching associated with HBV.
Other Remedy Options
Nutritional therapy: Despite the fact that HBV may cause you to feel sick to your stomach, consistent nutrition will aid your recovery. Try eating up to six small meals per day to combat nausea. Drink weak chicken or vegetable broth and diluted fruit juices (e.g., apple or grape). Take vitamin and mineral supplements as advised by your physician.
Natural and herbal remedies: Although not necessarily recommended by all
western medical practitioners, herbal and natural remedies have been used
over the years to treat people with HBV. Please check with your physician before trying any of these:
- Milk thistle - Dissolve three grams in water. Boil 10-20 minutes and drink or boil the leaves and eat them. The seeds taste like pumpkin seeds.
- Tumeric - This spice reduces jaundice and inflammation of the liver.
- Dandelion - Eat the leaves, stems and flowers.
- Artichoke - Steam and eat.
Many of the reparative elements in these herbs are available in pill form.
For More Information
The United States Department of Health and Human Services is an excellent source of up-to-date information on infectious diseases control and prevention.
- Hepatitis B Foundation
- Hepatitis B Coalition Immunization Action Coalition
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Hepatitis BranchThis article last updated on Sunday 10th October 2010