Travelling is one of the greatest joys in life for many people; however, it can expose one to certain risks. Hepatitis B is one such risk. Of course, the disease can be contracted by blood-to-blood contact or unprotected sex anywhere, but in certain areas of Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, South America and Central America it is especially prevalent. In these areas, there is a high population of people who are hepatitis B positive and the sterilisation techniques used may not be up to date or not enforced, making it much easier to become infected. As such, all travellers should be aware of the disease and situations that would put them at risk of acquiring it.
What is Hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is an infection that targets the liver, which is transferred by blood and other bodily fluids, such as semen. The disease often targets the liver cells like the endothelial cells, disrupting functions and causing organ damage; there is ongoing research aided by the likes of LifeNet Health to determine the liver’s reaction to the disease and how it impairs functioning. Although there are vaccines currently in use to prevent hepatitis, there is a dire need to develop newer medication and/or vaccines that can help eradicate it completely. It can have severe effects on the body that last only a short time or, in some cases, are prolonged to over six months. These effects include:
- Pain of the abdomen
- Joint pain
- Loss of appetite
A person will probably start to develop the symptoms of hepatitis a few months after being infected. The longer a person experiences the effects of the disease the more likely they are to have more severe problems, such as:
- Liver failure
- Liver cancer
There is no cure for hepatitis B, but there are ways to stop the spread of it, such as using protection during intercourse, and most infected people are able to live fairly normal lives with a few lifestyle adjustments and medication.
What Causes Hepatitis B?
There a number ways that hepatitis B is introduced into the human body; however, to become infected with the disease, one must always come in contact with one of the following bodily fluids:
- Vaginal secretions
This puts drug users that share intravenous paraphernalia and medical workers that come in contact with blood frequently at high risk of infection. In addition, having unprotected sex with an infected person is a high-risk activity. The disease is also commonly passed from mother to child during pregnancy and, in some cases, can be acquired through improperly sterilised tattooing equipment as well.
Prevention and Treatment
Fortunately, there is an effective vaccine for hepatitis B. It is administered in a series of three injections over the course of about four weeks and may be acquired from many places, including the very convenient online Doctor Lloyds Pharmacy. Most people who receive the vaccine experience no side effects. However, in some cases, the treatment has been known to cause:
- Soreness at the injection site
- Decreased appetite
In addition, there is a preventative treatment available for those that think they have come in contact with the disease. If administered within 24 hours, it may prevent infection from occurring. A person with hepatitis B may also be infected with hepatitis C. An hcv test can help you figure out if you have hepatitis C.
A person that is infected with hepatitis B or C should consult a doctor about the best treatment options. Though there is no cure for the disease, there are several methods for curbing the effects it has on the liver and alleviating any unpleasant symptoms.