Hep­ati­tis B is the lead­ing cause of liver can­cer

Business Daily (Kenya) - - LIFE: WELLNESS - AL­LAN RAJULA AND FELIX RIUNGA

Hep­ati­tis B, a viral in­fec­tion af­fect­ing the liver, has been cited as the lead­ing cause of liver can­cer in Africa, with some es­ti­mates at­tribut­ing up to 80 per cent of liver can­cers to Hep­ati­tis B in­fec­tion. This presents an op­por­tu­nity for in­ter­ven­tion as Hep­ati­tis B is pre­ventable through vac­ci­na­tion. Hep­ati­tis B virus is highly in­fec­tious and can be spread in a va­ri­ety of ways. Ex­am­ples in­clude from mother to child around the time of de­liv­ery, trans­fu­sion of in­fected blood and blood prod­ucts, dial­y­sis, sex­ual in­ter­course par­tic­u­larly with mul­ti­plepart­ners,use­ofin­jectable­drugs,and pro­longed­closec­on­tactwith­those­who are in­fected. In the ma­jor­ity of cases, in­fec­tion pro­duces no symp­toms and di­ag­no­sis is­madein­ci­den­tal­ly­forex­am­ple­dur­ing screen­ing for blood do­na­tions, or med­i­cal check-ups. Di­ag­no­sis of Hep­ati­tis B in­fec­tion is done through a blood test. Ad­di­tional tests to as­sess the de­gree of liv­er­in­volve­ment­may­be­car­ried­outand may in­clude an ul­tra­sound of the liver, and much less com­mon, a liver biopsy. There are two phases of hep­ati­tis B, acute and chronic. If one is ex­posed to Hep­ati­tis B virus, then the ini­tial in­fec­tion­is­ter­meda­cute.over­all,onlyabout athird­ofin­fectedadultswill­havesymp­toms such as yel­low­ness of the eyes and ab­dom­i­nal pain. Most oth­ers will ei­ther have no symp­toms, or only mild symp­toms which can eas­ily be mis­taken for u or malaria. It is rare for chil­dren to dis­play symp­toms. Af­ter an acute Hepati­tis­bin­fec­tion,there may be com­plete re­cov­ery, or pro­gres­sion into chronic dis­ease. Chronic Hep­ati­tis B is di­ag­nosed by thep­er­sis­tence­ofcer­tain­blood­mark­ers of hep­ati­tis about six months, or more af­ter the ini­tial in­fec­tion. Mostadultswill­not­pro­gresstochronic dis­ease,bu­ta­large­pro­por­tionofchil­dren whoare­in­fect­ed­from­birth,or­be­lowthe age of ve years will de­velop the chronic form. This may ex­ist with­out symp­tom­sor­with­oc­ca­sion­al­bout­sofhep­ati­tis char­ac­terised­byab­dom­i­nal­pain,yel­low eyes, dark urine or ab­nor­mal liver tests. Thek­ey­con­cern­inchronichep­ati­tis­bis theriskofde­vel­op­mentofliv­er­cir­rho­sis and, or liver can­cer. When symp­toms de­velop in acute hep­ati­tis B, man­age­ment is sup­port­ive with­rest,ad­e­quate­hy­dra­tio­nand­proper nu­tri­tion.avoid­ance­o­fother­fac­torsthat may­makethe­liv­erin am­ma­tion­worse such as al­co­hol is also ad­vised. There is no speci c treat­ment or cure for acute Hep­ati­tis B.

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