hepatitis b

Mrs A: My Spouse has Hepatitis, what should I Do?

Nurse Adebayo: To start with, it is important that you know your spouse’s hepatitis status. If I may ask, do you know what Hepatitis is?

Mrs A: No, I have no idea, we got to know during antenatal while he was told to donate blood at the General Hospital due to emergencies that may arise at child birth. But I think it some how involves the Lungs or so “I’m not too sure”

Nurse Adebayo:

  • Thank you Mrs A for the wonderful attempt; but I must say, Hepatitis affects the Liver not the Lungs. In as much as both the Liver and the Lungs begins with the same letter “L” they perform different functions: (The Liver is a single organ that helps break down and build up substances like; food, drugs, chemicals to the smallest form the body can absorb) and (The Lungs are paired {2}organs in the body that helps with proper breathing in and breathing out without undue stress).
  • Hepatitis on the other hand is derived from two words; Hepat- meaning Liver and Itis- meaning swelling or inflammation. Therefore, Hepatitis simply means swelling of the Liver. (Center for Diseases Control, 2020). The condition can be self-limiting (i.e. can occur alone in acute phases) or can progress to fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis (hardening of the liver) or liver cancer or death. (WHO, 2020). Hepatitis can result due to either of non-viral or viral causes or both as the case maybe; both resulting in liver fibrosis, cirrhosis, cancer or death.
  • So, lets discuss the various causes of Hepatitis;  
  • Non-Viral Hepatitis: Occurs due to toxic substances (like alcohol, certain over the counter drugs), and autoimmune diseases (The immune system or body soldiers can attack the liver for unknown reasons). {WHO, 2020; Aurora Health Care, 2020).
  • Viral Hepatitis: Occurs due to viruses. There are currently 5 strains of the hepatitis virus “although research is still ongoing on other strains”. They include; Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E.
  • Hepatitis A and E are typically caused by ingestion of contaminated food or water. Hepatitis B, C and D usually occur as a result of contact with infected body fluids. Common modes of transmission for these viruses include; recipients of unscreened blood or blood products, invasive medical procedures using contaminated or unsterilized equipment and for hepatitis B transmission from mother to baby at birth, from family member to child, and also by sexual contact. (WHO, 2020).

Mrs A: Yes! He was diagnosed with Hepatitis B

Nurse Adebayo: Hepatitis B is the most concerning of all hepatitis types. It has no cure and 90% of those who are infected do not know.

Mrs A: How do I know I am not infected already?

Nurse Adebayo: The only way of knowing your hepatitis status is to go for the screening in a standard and registered Diagnostic or Laboratory center like you did during your antenatal. Once you are found to be negative, it is important to get vaccinated immediately. Vaccination is the only protection against hepatitis B.

NB: Don’t wait until you’re pregnant to know your Hepatitis status; remember a problem known is better solved to prevent complications like; Liver fibrosis, Liver Cirrhosis, Liver Cancer or death. Knowing your status isn’t a death sentence, kindly contact your Physician at a Teaching hospital to ensure prompt management.

Nurse Adebayo: Do you understand Ma? Any further question (s), or addition (s)?

Mrs A: Thank you very much Nurse Adebayo, this is very explicit than what have been reading online. It was so scary reading alone but thanks for easing it. God Bless.

Nurse Adebayo is a registered Nurse here in Lagos.

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