Hepatitis B

Hepatitis is a viral infection of the liver which causes it to swell. There are a number of causes of hepatitis which leads to a varied categorization as A, B, C, Alcoholic, Drug induced and Autoimmune. The Hepatitis A, B, C and D are caused by a virus. The other causes are:

  • Attack of the liver by the body's Immune cells.
  • Bacterial or parasitic attacks.
  • Poison from substances within the human body.
  • Exposure to some medicines.
  • The act of iron deposit occurring in the liver arising from it being in excess within the human blood system.

Hepatitis can be described based on its persistence and thus acute if it lasts less than six months with non specific flu like symptoms affecting mainly the younger class of people (Freedman, 2009). Hepatitis can be chronic when it goes beyond six month with resultant non specific, minimal or completely no symptoms. Hepatitis B commonly referred to as serum hepatitis might either be acute or chronic with individuals in acute states clearing the infection within weeks. Its spread quickly through a virus hepatitis B virus belonging to the hepadna virus family which infects particularly human beings in large numbers leading to a swollen liver. The transmission happens by having the liver exposed to infected blood or body fluid through sexual intercourse, blood transmission, use of unsterilized needles and syringes, or from mother at child birth with infected mothers transmitting the infection to their offspring.

Chances are high for its occurrence in chronic form through saliva, tears and urine. It cannot however, be transmitted easily through kissing, holding hands, hugging, and breast feeding, drinking glasses or coughing. Hepatitis B virus is a DNA virus, double stranded with circular genome which has a characteristic to replicate itself through RNA intermediate forms by a method reverse transcription which takes place in the liver and proceeds to the blood (Willis, 2007). Hepatitis B virus deters the functioning of the entire liver by replicating, eventually binding to the host receptor cells and finally enters the cell by a process known as endocytosis and then afterwards multiplies. Hepatitis B in adults is linked to identifiable risks and also tends to recur especially in people with low immunity.

Acute Hepatitis B cases are identified by; pain in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen, breast development in males, general ill health, mild fever, body aches, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, jaundice, fatigue, dark urine and itching of the skin insinuating all possibilities of hepatitis virus types (Poynard, 2002). This condition lasts for only few weeks then graduates into compromising health states leading to severe liver failure that eventually results in high mortality cases. With chronic infections, there is inflammation of the liver leading to liver cirrhosis revealed through tiredness and weakening of the entire body (Poynard, 2002). This chronic condition also increases the chances of liver cancer, therefore it's medically advisable of the victims with such conditions to quit uptake of alcohol since it increases their chances of falling susceptible to medical conditions like liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.

A close physical examination should be carried out to test for the development of the disease. Laboratory tests are used such as the assay analysis on serum or blood that is carried out to detect the virus antigens and antibodies present within the test sample. Also the PCR tests are used in the detection of hepatitis B viral load thus assesses the person's status, monitoring and evaluating his/her response to medicine.

There are several strategies that have been put in place to curb the spread of the Hepatitis B virus and they include development of vaccines prepared from plasma obtained from patients with the virus, for instance transmission from mother to child can be reduced considerably through vaccinating with hepatitis B virus vaccine (Achord, 2002). Hepatitis B can be treated with its acute infection requiring less attention since its self clearing. The application of antiviral treatment in the chronic cases in hepatitis B is important so as to contain possibilities of occurrence of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer (Willis 2007). The drugs are also administered to reduce the chances of liver damage, with the commonly and most effectively used drugs being lamivudine, adefovir, telbivudine and entecavir (Freedman, 2009). Each of these drugs is aimed at giving different responses depending on reason for application. In addition the use of immune system modulators administered through an injection are also important in reducing the prevalence of Hepatitis B and they are; interferon alpha-2a and PEGylated interferon alpha- 2a which are also administered through an injection done on a weekly basis (Poynard 2002).

More research has been and is still being carried out to find the appropriate cure for hepatitis, for instance according to freedman (2009) during the year 2005, outcomes from a research study indicated that interaction between a host derived DNA binding protein and the amount of hepatitis B virus replicate in the liver thus regulating the level of production of the protein that could be used in the treatment. It should be noted that in recent years further research developments are now shifting from preventive measures to treatment as opposed to the previous years because the health care fraternity realized an increase in mortality rate arising from already infected people.