Hepatitis can be defined as a disease in which the liver may get inflamed due to infection. Hepatitis B is caused by a virus and can be transferred from one person to another through body fluids, semen, blood and vaginal fluids. In India, annually more than 600000 patients die due to Hepatitis B complications. In fact more than 40 million Indians are infected with Hepatitis B. The main causes of Hepatitis B infection can be drug use, injections, contact with infected blood or fluids. This contact can be through dental procedures and by using unsterilized equipment, blood transfusions, etc. Hence a woman may suffer from Hepatitis B due to their background, occupation, and lifestyle. In India, less than 0.9% women suffer from Hepatitis B during their pregnancy. This can be explained as 1 woman per 100 pregnant females. Following are few of the aspects that you need to be aware of:
Q1. Are pregnant women routinely tested for Hepatitis B?
Yes. This is a mandatory test that is prescribed by your doctor on your first prenatal visit. The same is a part of the routine blood tests recommended by your doctor. This is important to ensure that you become aware of your health and so that precautionary measures are taken to ensure that the Hepatitis infection is not transmitted to the baby. Your doctor can also suggest that you opt for the Hepatitis B Vaccination.
Q2. How can you get infected with Hepatitis B?
The main causes of Hepatitis B infection can be drug use, injections, and contact with infected blood or fluids. However, there are other unsuspecting causes:
- Sexual contact with another carrier
- Through birth from your mother, as she was a carrier of the infection and the Hepatitis B virus
- By sharing needles or accidently getting struck by a needle infected with Hepatitis B virus
- By using the toothbrush or razor of someone else which may have small traces of blood infected with Hepatitis B virus
- By getting a tattoo or piercing from a place that has less hygiene and no sterilization protocols
Q3. What are the signs and symptoms associated with Hepatitis B infection?
The most common and prominent sign of Hepatitis B infection is fatigue or tiredness. You may also experience the following:
- Abdominal Pain
- Nausea And Vomiting
- Appetite Loss
- Joint Pain
- Jaundice (Yellow-Tinged Skin Or Eyes)
If you are experiencing any of the above, please contact a gastroenterologist at the earliest.
Q4. What happens when I test positive for Hepatitis B Virus infection?
The first step would be to run few blood tests to check the condition of your liver. The doctors shall assess the liver of damage the infection has caused on your liver. They shall also strongly advise that you don’t drink any alcohol as it adversely affects your liver.
- Please do not take any of the counter medication, without consulting your doctor.
- You would be given immediate medication- antiviral therapy- and shall be advised to periodically come to the hospital for prenatal visits and assessment analysis for your liver functioning.
- You would also be advised to use condoms during sex.
- You shall be advised the delivery type – C section or Normal Delivery- based on your health condition. Studies share that normal deliveries are possible in the condition.
- Post 12 hrs of your baby’s birth, it will be given a Hepatitis B vaccination This shall provide a short-term protection from hepatitis B. Together, the antibodies and the vaccine are about 85 to 95 percent effective at preventing hepatitis B infection in babies whose mothers have HBV.