- Characteristics of the disease
- Main transmission routes
- How Hepatitis B is Not Transmitted
- Who is at risk
- Forms of development of hepatitis B
- Recommendations to family members of a patient with viral hepatitis
Hepatitis B is an infectious liver disease caused by a virus. Pathology is extremely dangerous for the body of any person: in order not to get infected, it is necessary to know the ways of transmission of hepatitis B and take precautions. At the slightest suspicion of infection, you should seek medical help and be examined.
Characteristics of the disease
Hepatitis B is a dangerous pathology that affects the liver and becomes chronic. Over time, a person carrying the virus develops cirrhosis and liver cancer. The causative agent of the disease can withstand heating up to 100 0 C. Moreover, if the virus is in the blood serum, its resistance to temperature increases significantly. He is not afraid of freezing: having thawed, the hepatitis B virus does not lose its ability to infect.
The virus cannot be cultured in the laboratory, which is why it is so little studied. Experts find it in all biological fluids of an infected person: the likelihood of contracting hepatitis B is several times higher than the likelihood of contracting HIV. The causative agent of this dangerous pathology dies when exposed to chloramine, hydrogen peroxide and formalin.
Today, a huge number of people in the world are infected with hepatitis B - more than two billion. Four million more people are diagnosed with an acute form of infection each year. In order not to get sick yourself and to prevent the spread of pathology, it is very important to know the ways of its transmission.
Main transmission routes
Most often, the hepatitis B virus is transmitted through blood. The causative agent of the disease, penetrating into the body of a healthy person, enters the liver through the bloodstream, multiplies and affects hepatocytes (liver cells). The immune system stops recognizing the modified cells and considers them foreign. She begins to produce antibodies, the task of which is to fight the cells altered by the virus. All this leads to a serious inflammation of the liver - hepatitis.
Most often, hepatitis B affects people between the ages of 15 and 30. First of all, drug addicts are at risk: they tolerate the disease rather hard and often die from this pathology.
It should be noted that hepatitis B can be contracted not only through blood: for example, the virus is found in vaginal discharge and in semen. Moreover, in a sufficiently high concentration.
There are several ways hepatitis B is transmitted:
- During a contaminated blood transfusion. Donors must be tested for the presence of the virus to rule out the likelihood of infection. However, there are situations when an urgent blood transfusion is required, but there is no time to check it. This is how you can get hepatitis;
- When using poorly processed medical instruments. First of all, we are talking about drug addicts who often use non-sterile syringes and needles. However, those who are given injections, manicure, pedicure, tattoo, etc. are also at risk. Sometimes infection occurs during certain manipulations in manicure and tattoo parlors, during plastic surgeries and cosmetic procedures. The danger can lie in wait even in dentistry. When visiting treatment rooms and beauty salons, it is necessary to carefully monitor the processing of working tools and equipment;
- During childbirth from mother to child (vertical transmission). The virus is unable to cross the placenta into the body of the embryo. But during childbirth, a woman develops microtraumas: it is because of this that the blood of an infected mother ends up on the body of a newborn. As a result, the infant becomes a carrier of the hepatitis virus. A cesarean section, which is often done for women with a similar pathology, allows you to avoid infection of the baby;
- During unprotected sex. A person who does not follow precautions during sexual intercourse can become infected himself and infect a partner (applies to both men and women);
- At home. The causative agent of infection is transmitted through saliva: a healthy person who has microtrauma or gum disease in his mouth can become infected with a kiss.
The virus persists in an infected person's fluid even after it dries. For example, you should be careful with clothing that has the patient's blood on it a few days ago.
How Hepatitis B is Not Transmitted
Hepatitis cannot be contracted in the household, using a glass or utensil of a sick person, it is not transmitted through breastfeeding, hugging, kissing, shaking hands, coughing, sneezing, or recreational use of public pools or similar objects.
Who is at risk
- Leading promiscuous and non-traditional sexual orientations. Contraception should be used to minimize the chance of contracting hepatitis B;
- Injection addicts using poorly sanitized syringes;
- Infants born to sick mothers;
- Undergoing a hemodialysis procedure if precautions are not taken by medical professionals;
- Tourists vacationing in countries with an unfavorable epidemiological situation;
- Family members of a hepatitis patient who do not follow the rules of hygiene;
- Those working in the health sector and in direct contact with infected people;
- Persons serving a sentence in penitentiary institutions.
People at risk need to know exactly about the ways of transmission of hepatitis B. They should undergo regular screening for the presence of the virus, and if it is detected, immediately begin treatment. Remember: the result of the fight against this dangerous pathology depends on the timeliness and adequacy of therapy.
Forms of development of hepatitis B
It is impossible to predict how the disease will develop and what complications the patient will have. In any case, one cannot expect that the body will cope with the infection on its own. Only timely measures can prevent the development of dangerous pathologies.
The fulminant form of hepatitis B is characterized by pronounced symptoms: within a few hours the patient develops cerebral edema, falls into a coma and dies. This form of hepatitis B is not treatable.
The acute form of the disease has three stages. First, the patient develops symptoms common to all hepatitis. Then jaundice develops and it becomes noticeable that the patient has liver problems. Further, the stage of recovery or further progression of the disease begins.
The chronic form of hepatitis becomes a consequence of acute or occurs on its own. Most often it is asymptomatic, but the patient turns out to be a carrier of the virus. In most cases, chronic hepatitis develops into cirrhosis or liver cancer.
Whether acute hepatitis becomes chronic depends on many factors. In particular, the age of the patient: the younger he is, the higher the risk of the pathology becoming chronic. For example, in 90% of newborns infected at birth, hepatitis B becomes chronic.
In patients from 1 to 5 years of age, the likelihood of developing a chronic form decreases significantly, and in adults and elderly patients, the pathology passes from an acute stage to a chronic one in about 10% of cases. The earlier treatment is started, the less likely it is to develop dangerous complications.
Recommendations to family members of a patient with viral hepatitis
People around the patient with hepatitis must strictly observe preventive measures. To protect against infection will help:
- Leading a healthy lifestyle, avoiding alcohol, cigarettes, drugs;
- Use of personal hygiene items and contraceptives;
- Visiting proven hairdressing and nail salons and dental offices;
- Avoiding casual sexual intercourse;
- Regular examination.
Everyone who lives with an infectious person is at risk. These people should be extremely careful: infection can occur even from a small scratch on the skin. If there is a suspicion of hepatitis B, you must immediately go to a medical institution and undergo an examination.
Under no circumstances can you treat hepatitis B on your own! Especially using folk methods. Only a doctor can prescribe drugs and determine the therapy regimen. Remember: the right treatment is the key to success in the fight against this insidious and extremely dangerous pathology.