Hepatitis B is a contagious liver infection caused by the Hepatitis B virus (HBV). HBV virus is passed from person to person through blood, semen or other body fluids. The most common ways through which HBV is transmitted include:
- Sexual contact,
- Sharing of needles and syringes contaminated with infected blood,
- Accidental needle sticks, and
- from Mother to Child
HBV is a common virus that infects and inflames the liver. Hepatitis infection can be either acute or chronic. Jaundice, fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, joint pain and abdominal pain are symptoms of Hepatitis B. Chronic hepatitis B can cause severe complications like liver failure, liver cirrhosis, liver cancer, kidney disease, inflammation of blood vessels and anemia. HBV has no medical cure, but it can be prevented by vaccination and other lifestyle changes.
Here are few preventive measures for hepatitis B infection.
1. Get vaccinated
The best way to prevent Hepatitis B infection is to get vaccinated against the virus. It comes in different brand names like Recombivax HB, Engerix-B , Elovac B Genevac B, Shanvac B, etc. The vaccine is administered three times over a six-month period. The vaccine is 95% effective against Hepatitis B. It provides indefinite protection against infection. Vaccination is recommended for:
- All the infants (first dose given at birth)
- All the children who are 18 years old or younger
- Sex partners or individuals who have had contacts with HBsAg positive patients
- Anyone who is on treatment for sexually transmitted disease
- Men who have sex with men
- Drug abusers
- People infected with hepatitis C virus and other chronic liver diseases
- Health care workers
- People infected with HIV
- Patients on Hemodialysis and Peritoneal dialysis
2. Know HBV status of your sexual partner
Before engaging in unprotected sex with your partner, make sure that he/she is not infected with HBV or other STDs.
3. Practice safe sex
If you do not know the health status of your partner, then use a condom every time you have sex. But one thing you need to remember is that condom can only reduce the risk of contracting HBV, does not eliminate the risk.
4. Avoid using illicit drugs
If you are using illicit drugs, then stop using them to prevent Hepatitis B infection.
5. Be alert about body piercing and tattooing
If you want to get a tattoo or piercing, then look for a reputable shop. Before getting it done, ask about how the equipment is cleaned and make sure that the person is using sterile needles.
6. Have hepatitis B vaccine before you travel
If you are traveling to the area where the Hepatitis B is common or prevalent, then consult your doctor about getting the vaccine and have it in advance. It is usually given in three doses over a six-month period.
7. Avoid sharing personal things
Avoid sharing toothbrushes, nail clippers, or razors with an infected person. Small cuts in the skin are a perfect mode for contracting such viruses.
8. Maintain a healthy immune system
Your immune system plays a crucial role in protecting you from infections. To keep your immune system strong you need to follow following lifestyle such as:
- Sleeping adequately
- Eating more fresh foods and vitamin supplements like Vitamin A, C, and D, zinc, selenium, etc. to boost your immunity
- Practicing good hygiene
- Drinking lots of water
- Avoiding refined sugars like soda, pop, candy, and ice creams
You can take the above mentioned preventive steps to reduce your risk of contracting Hepatitis B infection.
Changing your lifestyle is an important step towards diabetes prevention and control. Simple lifestyle changes will ensure a healthier future and improved quality of life. If you have not started yet, it is not too late, start it now.