What is hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is inflammation of the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus, which can cause liver damage and liver cancer. Many people with the virus do not know that they are infected. The most common route of transmission for hepatitis B in many countries is a transmission from the mother to the baby at the time of production.
Hepatitis – basic common sense
The term “hepatitis” refers to inflammation of the liver. The liver is very important to your health. When the liver is inflamed or damaged, it will not work properly, which will affect your health.
Inflammation of the liver can be caused by alcohol, drugs or viruses. In Australia, the most common viruses that cause hepatitis are hepatitis A virus, hepatitis B virus, and hepatitis C virus. These viruses are different, and their only common feature is that they affect the liver.
Hepatitis A is transmitted through infected food or drinking water. After a short period of time, the human body will automatically eliminate the virus. There is a vaccine to prevent hepatitis A.
Hepatitis C is transmitted through blood contact with blood and can cause liver damage and liver cancer. There are treatments but no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C.
This publication provides information on hepatitis B. There is a vaccine to prevent hepatitis B, and there are drugs for people who already have hepatitis B.
What happens to hepatitis B infection?
Hepatitis B is classified into acute and chronic. Most adults who are infected with the hepatitis B virus will automatically rule out the virus and produce antibodies within 6 months. Once the virus is removed, they cannot be infected with the hepatitis B virus again and cannot be transmitted to others. This is called acute hepatitis B.
When the infection lasts for more than 6 months, they are infected with chronic hepatitis B. Infants infected with hepatitis B, 90% will develop chronic hepatitis B, which can cause liver damage, and liver failure (the liver can not function properly), and sometimes liver cancer in adulthood.
The younger the infection with hepatitis B, the higher the risk of liver damage and liver cancer in adulthood. Most people with chronic hepatitis B in Australia are born abroad and are infected with hepatitis B when they are babies or children.
Chronic hepatitis B
If you have chronic hepatitis B, you must see your doctor at least once a year because the liver may be damaged at any time. Your doctor will give you the best advice on how to take care of yourself and protect your liver. The doctor will also tell you if you need to take the medicine and refer you to a liver specialist if necessary. Most people with chronic hepatitis B live healthily and do not need to take drugs for hepatitis B.
Help protect your liver:
- Drink less or not drink
- Balanced diet to avoid excessive fat intake
- Maintain healthy weight
- Quit smoking or smokeless
- Regular movement
- Mediate your stress, ask for help and rest in moderation
- Hepatitis A vaccine is given to protect you from another hepatitis virus that can cause more serious liver disease.
No “healthy carrier”
Chronic hepatitis B is a complex disease that changes over time and does not cause damage to the liver for some periods. In the past, patients who had passed through this period were sometimes referred to as “healthy carriers.” However, chronic hepatitis B can change without your knowledge, and you are at risk of liver damage. We now know that there is no such thing as a “healthy carrier.” Only through regular liver tests can you know how chronic hepatitis B affects your liver. Even if you have been called a “healthy carrier”, you still need to see a doctor and do at least one check a year.
How do you get hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is present in the body fluids of patients, such as blood, semen, and fluids in the vagina. Hepatitis B can be transmitted when the patient’s body fluid enters another person’s body. Even if the amount of body fluid is too small to be seen, it can still infect the virus.
The younger the infection with hepatitis B, the higher the risk of contracting chronic hepatitis B in adulthood. The most common situation is:
- Occurs at birth and is transmitted to the baby via an infected mother, especially in developing countries.
- In childhood, one person is transmitted to another through unencapsulated sores or wounds. Most adults with hepatitis B will automatically rule out the virus. The most common causes of hepatitis B infection in adults are:
- Have sex with someone with hepatitis B without using a condom.
- Share drug injection kits.
- Hepatitis B can also be transmitted by:
- Sharing is like a razor, toothbrush or other personal items that may carry blood.
- In countries where certain utensils are not properly sterilized, they are transmitted via injection, medical treatment and dental treatment. In Australia, these are safe.
- In some countries where blood is not screened for hepatitis B, it is transmitted through blood transfusion. In Australia, this is safe.
- Through traditional therapies that may involve blood, such as acupuncture.
- Use not properly sterilized tattoo equipment, including cosmetic tattoos.
You will not be infected with hepatitis B from:
- Insect bites
- Shared bathroom and toilet facilities
- Shared kitchen utensils and cutlery
- Swimming pool
Feeding breast milk is safe, especially if the baby has been vaccinated to prevent hepatitis B.
How popular is hepatitis B in the world?
More than 350 million people worldwide suffer from chronic hepatitis B, causing 1 million deaths each year. In many countries, the most common route of transmission for hepatitis B is a transmission from the mother to the baby at the time of production.
In the world, most people with chronic hepatitis B are born in countries where hepatitis B is common.
What are the symptoms of hepatitis B?
Most people with chronic hepatitis B do not have any specific symptoms and many patients do not know they have the virus. However, even without any symptoms, the virus can still damage the liver.
Symptoms sometimes do not, and maybe similar to the symptoms of other diseases. Possible symptoms of chronic hepatitis B include:
- joint pain
- No appetite
- Stunned (feeling like vomiting)
- Liver (upper right in the abdomen) pain
- Tired, depressed, and irritated
The only way to know if you have hepatitis B is to have a proper blood screening.
Hepatitis B screening
Not all blood screenings can show you have hepatitis B. Your doctor must perform a specific blood screening to determine if you are infected. This screening can show if you have chronic hepatitis B or if you have already developed antibodies to hepatitis B. You need to ask your doctor what screenings you must perform to determine if you have hepatitis B. The health check you need to immigrate to Australia does not include hepatitis B screening.
If you have chronic hepatitis B, your doctor may have more tests to determine if your liver is damaged and if you need to take it. Your doctor can explain each screening and what the purpose of the screening is.
You should go for hepatitis B screening if you:
- A country that was born or previously living in a country where hepatitis B is prevalent, or where there is no free hepatitis B vaccine for babies or children.
- Parents or family members have hepatitis B, liver disease or liver cancer.
- He has had a sexual partner with hepatitis B or has lived with someone with chronic hepatitis B.
- He has been transfused, treated, or treated in a developing country.
- Has been involved in cultural practices involving blood, such as tattoos and so on.
Can drugs help?
Although hepatitis B cannot be cured, there are drugs that can control the virus. These drugs can reduce your liver damage and reduce your risk of liver cancer, as well as help the liver repair itself. Your doctor will tell you if you need to take the medicine. This is why it is so important to see your doctor regularly.
If you need to take medication, your doctor will refer you to a liver specialist. The specialist will explain what medicines are available and which one is best for you. Once you start taking your medication, you must see your specialist regularly. Once started, it is important to continue taking regular medications. If you have a medical problem, don’t stop taking it, tell your doctor first.
If you are taking any natural medicines such as herbs or traditional recipes, tell your doctor and specialist, as this will affect your liver or interfere with your medication. The doctor can tell you which herbal or traditional remedies should be avoided.
How do we stop the spread of hepatitis B?
For your family and those close to you, vaccines are the best way to protect them from hepatitis B infection.
In Australia, there is a free vaccine available to all mothers to vaccinate their newborn baby. In the first 12 months of life, the baby needs to be vaccinated several times to obtain complete protection. The hepatitis B vaccine is safe and effective.
There are also free vaccines for children, adolescents, family members, and people with close contact with hepatitis B patients. Please ask your doctor for details.
Other things we can do to stop hepatitis B infection:
- Avoid blood contact with blood: Do not share razors, toothbrushes, and other personal items.
- Wrap any exposed wounds and wash any blood stains with a fungicide. Don’t let other people touch your wounds and blood unless they wear gloves.
- Dispose of personal items such as facial tissue, sanitary napkins, menstrual slivers and bandages in sealed plastic bags.
- Use condoms and lubricating fluids when engaging in sexual activity.
- Do not share needles and any other utensils when injecting drugs.
Who do you have to tell?
This is a common difficult question because everyone has different needs and interactions. It is helpful to someone who can understand and support you. Decide who is the one you feel you can trust.
Although you don’t have to tell anyone that you have hepatitis B, you must avoid transmission to others. It is important to tell the person who lives with you in your house and your partner so that they can go to the test and vaccinate, but you don’t have to tell anyone else.
Tell health care providers, such as your dentist or other doctors, to help them give you the best medical care, but it’s up to you. It is your responsibility to take care of your health care providers to protect your privacy and keep your information confidential. They cannot discriminate against you in any way.
There are laws in New South Wales that require you to let others know that you have chronic hepatitis B in some of the following situations.
These include if:
- Your insurance company needs information about infections and diseases.
- You are or want to join the Australian Defence Force
- You want to donate blood or semen.
If you are not sure who to tell or how to tell them, contact the service agencies listed here to ask for advice.