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Common Diseases > Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a highly contagious virus that attacks the liver which in recent years has been on the increase as the primary transmission is from unsafe sex and the sharing of needles by drug users. In mild cases, you may never know you have it, and it may be gone in six months and as . But some people become carriers for the rest of their lives, infecting others in their community while others go on to have chronic liver disease.

Signs and symptoms of Hepatitis B can be very unnoticeable and if you feel you are at risk, see a doctor now. If you become a carrier, you may develop cirrhosis of the liver, or liver cancer. Your chances of getting liver cancer are up to 300 times higher if you are a hepatitis B carrier.

WHY WORRY ABOUT HEPATITIS B WHEN THERE IS AIDS?
If you have unsafe sex, you are putting yourself at risk for hepatitis B, HIV, and all other sexually transmitted diseases (STD's). And because hepatitis B is 100 times more infectious than HIV, your chances of getting hepatitis B from each unsafe sex act is greater. Hepatitis B has no cure, although there is a vaccine to prevent infection.

HOW COMMON IS HEPATITIS B?
It is estimated in the USA that each year about 240,000 people get hepatitis B. Or one in 20 will get hepatitis B at some time during their life.

WHO GETS HEPATITIS B?

Anyone can get hepatitis B, but your risk is increased if you:
  • Are sexually active
  • Have unsafe sex
  • Have more than one sex partner
  • Have another STD
  • Share needles
  • Work in health care
  • Live with someone who has hepatitis B
  • Are a native of or spend time in areas where hepatitis B is widespread. These areas include Alaska, the Pacific Islands, Africa, Asia, parts of the Middle East, and the Amazon region of South America.

HOW DO YOU GET HEPATITIS B?
You can get hepatitis B from:

  • having unsafe sex or from contact with infected blood or body fluids.
  • From sex - Hepatitis B is found in infected semen, vaginal fluids, and saliva. You can get hepatitis B from vaginal, oral, or anal sex.
  • If your partner has hepatitis B, you may get it also. Having intercourse without a condom or oral sex without a moisture barrier increases your risk. If you have had more than one partner, you have a greater chance of getting infected.
  • From blood - You may get hepatitis B if you are exposed to an infected person's blood.
  • The virus can get into the body through cuts, open sores, or other moist openings like the mouth or the vagina.
  • Though very rare, it is possible to get the virus through transfusions of infected blood or blood products.
  • Sharing personal items such as razors or toothbrushes.
  • Sharing food utensils
  • Sharing any type of needle, including needles for steroid shots, tattooing, or ear piercing.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Symptoms of hepatitis B may be like those of a stomach virus. Tiredness, nausea, dark urine, jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin), discomfort in the liver.

Many people with hepatitis B have no symptoms. They don't know they have it unless they get a blood test. But even with no symptoms, they can still become carriers. Others become very sick and cannot work for weeks or months.

WHAT IS THE TREATMENT?

In Modern Medicine there is no cure.
Natural treatments include:

  • Rest
  • A liver cleansing diet, there are many good books on this.
  • Avoidance of alcohol
  • Eating a low protein, low fat diet in order to rest the liver and enable it to heal.
  • Naturopaths can prescribe herbs and dietary supplements to assist recovery.

VACCINATION
This is a preventative treatment that you may have if you are at risk. i.e. if your sex partner or a member of your household has hepatitis B. Or you are going into a high risk environment.

Vaccination is considered by the Natural Health Community to be damaging to the natural defences of the body which results in weakening the immune system which makes the body more vulnerable to other diseases

WHAT IF I'M PREGNANT?

If you have hepatitis B and become pregnant, your baby may get the virus. Talk to your naturopath or doctor.

HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF?

  • Keep your body healthy
  • Avoid doing the things which cause transmission of infection.
  • Practice safe sex
  • Get vaccinated. The hepatitis B vaccine may protect you.




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