What is hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is a type of hepatitis caused by a virus. China is an endemic area for hepatitis B. About 10 percent of adults are carriers of hepatitis B. There are currently more than 100 million carriers nationwide. These carriers have the virus latent in their liver cells, which can cause chronic hepatitis and increase the risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer.
How is hepatitis B transmitted?
A mother with hepatitis B transmits the hepatitis B virus to her fetus through the placenta or birth canal during childbirth, also known as “mother-to-child transmission”.
Hepatitis B virus is transmitted by blood or body fluids through the skin or mucous membranes, such as tattoos, injections, ear piercings, etc. Hepatitis B is not transmitted by diet, shared meals, or usual skin-to-skin contact.
What should I pay attention to everyday for hepatitis B carriers?
Be aware that you should undergo regular review and examination, take the initiative to inform your medical history of hepatitis B when you visit your doctor, and avoid using hepatotoxic drugs. Do not drink and smoke, avoid unnecessary injections, tattoos, ear piercing, or sharing needles, syringes, toothbrushes and razors. Do not inject drugs and do not engage in risky sexual behavior. Keep a relaxed mood and maintain good exercise habits, a regular life, adequate rest and sleep. Do not take prescriptions or drugs of unknown origin that may aggravate the burden on the liver. There are no special dietary restrictions, as long as fresh, natural foods are consumed. Avoid excessive artificial flavors or foods that are pickled or smoked, and foods with aflatoxin, such as spoiled peanuts. There is no need to take special “supplements”, just a balanced diet.
When is treatment needed?
When the liver function of the carrier is normal, no special treatment is needed! However, regular check-ups should be conducted to ensure the best timing of treatment and early detection of complications. If liver function continues to be abnormal and the viral load is also high, you may consider assessing whether it is appropriate to start treatment. Currently, there are two main types of drugs available in Western medicine: interferon and oral antiviral agents, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Interferon treatment takes six months to a year, while oral antivirals require three years or more of continuous treatment. The side effects of treatment are slightly greater with interferon than with oral antivirals. The most appropriate treatment should be carefully selected by a specialist after a complete assessment of the patient’s condition, taking into account multiple factors such as host and virus. Patients should also follow medical advice and follow treatment guidelines for close review and treatment, and should not use or stop medication on their own to avoid side effects and drug resistance. For some patients with cirrhosis who have developed complications, or who are receiving chemotherapy or immunosuppressive therapy, appropriate treatment plans should be arranged according to individual circumstances. Since some patients may still have relapses after the treatment course, appropriate follow-up examinations are still needed.
I am worried that I am a hepatitis B carrier!
Just consult your specialist and keep track of your liver changes with regular follow-up examinations. Being a carrier of hepatitis B does not mean that you have an incurable disease. Remember to have regular check-ups and be open-minded about it, and carriers can definitely lead a normal life.