Hepatitis B is a disease caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV), which leads to the infectious illness of liver and its cells. It is one of the most serious diseases in the modern world, as it affects thousands of people annually. Hepatitis B is considered to be endemic in China and epidemic in the countries of Asia and Africa. Approximately, 350 million people are suffering from the chronic form of hepatitis B (Schilsky, 2013). Without doubt, this disease is one of the severest and most dangerous ones. Only opportune treatment and diagnostics can help to prevent its development.
The special virus (HBV), which enters the human liver and destroys its structure, causes hepatitis B in the majority of cases. This happens during the direct blood-to-blood contact with an infected person. Recent studies report that the virus of hepatitis B can be also observed in semen, vaginal fluids, tears, urine and even saliva. In other words, any contact with the infected can contribute to the development of hepatitis B.
The most common ways of the HBV transmission are the following. Firstly, the probability of getting infected increases during the direct blood-to-blood contact. It happens in cases of blood transfusions, vaccination, acupuncture, tattooing and all other procedures, connected with the usage of needles. Moreover, the virus of hepatitis B can be transmitted in case of sharing one toothbrush or razor with the infected people. From this point of view, following the hygienic rules is the first prophylactic measure against this disease.
Secondly, hepatitis B can be transmitted during the unprotected sexual contact (Fairley & Read, 2012). In this case, the virus can enter the organism through the saliva, semen or vaginal fluids of an infected person. In addition, a child, whose mother is infected, can also inherit hepatitis B. These are three main ways of HBV transmission. At the same time, it is important to remember that simple shaking hands with the infected people, kissing, hugging or sharing common utensils and glasses do not contribute to the development of this disease.
Hepatitis B exists in two forms. These are the acute and chronic ones. The first type of hepatitis B is typical for the adults, whose organisms are able to clear the infection away in a natural manner. As a rule, acute form of hepatitis B lasts for half a year and tends to be destroyed after this period. Acute hepatitis B is usually an acquired one. In this case, there is a greater possibility for the infected people to overcome the disease and recover from it totally.
Chronic form of hepatitis B is incurable. It is caused by the impossibility of the immune system to protect the organism from the virus. As a result, the virus can become a lifelong problem and lead to much more serious consequences and diseases, such as cancer or cirrhosis. In most cases, the chronic form of hepatitis B is typical for those, who have inherited the virus from their mothers. Very often, the virus may remain undiagnosed and undetected. Nevertheless, it performs a permanent threat to the health of the infected individuals and can considerably damage their well-being.
Acute form of the hepatitis B virus is closely related to the acute viral hepatitis. Very often, this disease has no distinct symptoms to diagnose. Its first signs are very common and typical for many minor illnesses. What is more, in many cases, hepatitis B is completely asymptomatic and undiagnosed. Therefore, it is very difficult to detect it on time.
Nevertheless, there are some symptoms, which are common for all patients, infected with HBV. Among them, it is possible to name the loss of appetite, vomiting, headaches, nausea, fever and dark urine. The disease can also contribute to the development of jaundice. In addition, one more symptom of hepatitis B virus is itching.
As a rule, the disease lasts for several weeks and then tends to be cured by the immune system. After that time, the infected begin to feel certain improvement of their health. At the same time, there are some cases when hepatitis B can result in serious diseases of liver (for example, fulminant hepatic failure) and lead to lethal outcomes.
Chronic form of hepatitis B is usually asymptomatic. We have already mentioned that the chronic infection with hepatitis B is difficult to diagnose and identify. Nevertheless, this form of hepatitis B is especially dangerous as it can lead to the chronic inflammation of liver, cirrhosis and other fatal diseases. In recent years, numerous cases of liver cancer, caused by the hepatitis B have been seen. It means that the hepatitis B is unpredictable in its development and performs a serious threat to the health of the infected.
Symptoms of hepatitis B can also include serum-sickness-like syndrome, skin rash, polyarthritis, membranous glomerulonephritis and hepatocellular carcinoma (El-Serag, 2011). Thus, we can see that hepatitis B virus infects not only liver, but also the whole organism and its systems.
Hepatitis B is a global disease as it affects plenty of people from all over the globe. According to the statistical data, average 350 million of people are suffering from chronic form of hepatitis B. The greatest rate of infections is observed in Asian and African countries. Approximately 10% of the population is Asia is infected with the hepatitis B virus. Speaking about the situation in Europe and Northern America, the index is much lower and forms just 0.5%.
Both vertical and horizontal ways of virus transmission contribute to the global spread of hepatitis B. Vertical transmission presupposes the transmitting of the virus from mother to a child during the birth. The horizontal transmission includes cases of sanitary inaccuracies, violation of hygienic rules, bites, drug consumption and unprotected sexual contacts. It is interesting to know that the vertical transmission is typical for Asian countries, Russia and Eastern Europe. On the contrary, the main ways of infection with the hepatitis B virus in America and Western Europe are connected with the adult horizontal transmission. Nevertheless, the influence of other factors is also noticeable in the whole world.
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In 2010, 120 million people in China were infected with the hepatitis B virus. A high percentage of infections could also be observed in India and Indonesia, where the rate of the infected population was 8% and 10-15%, respectively (Komas et al., 2013). The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 600 thousand people die from the hepatitis B annually.
Therefore, it is possible to say that hepatitis B is a global problem, which affects all countries and continents. Under such circumstances, it is paramount to establish an efficient strategy of fight against this disease. Moreover, the government of all countries should combine their efforts in order to prevent the spread of hepatitis B and protect the population from its dangerous consequences.
In order to overcome hepatitis B there is a need to take the preventive measures. Generally, the prevention of hepatitis B involves primary, secondary and tertiary methods. All of them are important for the opportune and effective prevention of this disease, its development and spreading.
Primary prevention includes a system of measures that are aimed at spreading the relevant information about the hepatitis B and its danger for the human health within the community. It is true that the awareness of potential danger of disease can significantly reduce the virus transmission in the society. Thus, the first step towards the prevention of hepatitis B is the awareness of its nature, symptoms and probable consequences. Primary prevention also emphasizes the importance of hygienic and sanitary rules, safe and effective vaccines, implementation of blood safety strategies, and the significance of secure sexual contacts. In fact, vaccination can help in the 90% of cases (Aspinall et al., 2011)
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Primary prevention also involves a warning about the necessity to consume safe food and water and provide secure working conditions. In fact, primary prevention dwells on the simple ways of avoiding hepatitis B in terms of everyday life. In includes a set of useful advice and notifications that everyone can follow for the sake of personal protection.
Secondary and tertiary prevention measures include diagnosis and medical interventions. They also presuppose a complex of treatment measures and techniques, established for every individual case of infection. Obviously, the opportune diagnosis of hepatitis B increases the chances of quick and effective recovery. From this point of view, it is essential to take the diagnostic measures from time to time in order to prevent the development of hepatitis B.
To sum up, hepatitis B is a serious disease affecting the human liver. This disease is considered to be one of the most dangerous ones as it is spread throughout all continents and has a negative impact on the global population. The danger of hepatitis B is connected with the lack of symptoms and signs, which could have been witnessed as for its development. On the contrary, the virus of hepatitis B usually remains undetected and difficult to diagnose. Such hidden nature of this virus can result in the unpredicted consequences and outcomes.
The other danger of hepatitis B is its probability to cause fatal diseases, such as cirrhosis, cancer and liver inflammations. There is a complex of primary preventive measures, which are available for everyone to follow. In fact, only complete awareness and knowledge about hepatitis B can help to avoid its impacts and protect personal health and well-being.