The liver is one of the most active and vital organs of your body. The large organ covers up a lot of space in your abdominal region. Therefore, the liver is entitled to many duties that are crucial for the optimal working of the body.
There is a long list of functions performed by the liver:
- Produces bile to enhance digestion of fats in the small intestine
- Produces cholesterol that carries fats (throughout the body)
- Converts and stores excess glucose to glycogen
- Stores excess iron
- Regulates amino acid levels and blood clotting factors
- Enhances the immune system
- Clears the body of poisons, drugs, ammonia, etc.
These are the most evident but not the only activities performed by the dark red organ. For example, a small hepatitis B virus (HBV) can cause damage and inflammation despite its large size.
“Hepatitis” means inflammation of the liver, and when the hepatitis B virus causes it, the disease is known as Hepatitis B. It is a chronic liver disease that is pretty common in underdeveloped and developed countries. However, chronic ailment is highly endemic in low-income countries due to limited resources and medical facilities.
According to the World Health Organization, as of 2019, there were 296 million people (estimated value) living with chronic hepatitis B infection. The counter for new patients annually was 1.5 million. The approximate number of deaths due to hepatitis B is 620,000 per year.
It exists in two forms, i.e., acute and chronic. Acute infections acquired by infants develop into a common form in most cases. The progression of chronic hepatitis B is slow, and the symptoms are not noticeable.
Liver cirrhosis is a likely outcome of chronic hepatitis B. According to a study, 40% of men who acquire hepatitis B perinatally die of cirrhosis. The percentage is smaller for women, i.e., 15%.
Hepatitis B Causes
Entry of the hepatitis B virus is a must for you to get infected. Hepatitis B virus is acquired when one comes into contact with an infected person. The transmission of HBV is worth discussing. There are several ways by which you can become infected by HBV, which are discussed below:
Hepatitis B is a contagious disease that travels via the blood, semen, or other blood fluids. The most common ways of transmission include:
- Perinatal transmission (mother to child)
- Direct blood contact with infected person’s blood (blood transfusions)
- Using contaminated needles
- Having intimacy or sex (vaginal, anal, etc.) with HBV infected person
- Sharing personal items such as razors, blades, etc. with hepatitis B patient
Though the virus also resides inside the saliva, there is no transmission through shared utensils or even kissing. The most common transmission route is perinatal, i.e., from mother to child during the process of childbirth. As per a study, viral transmission occurs only in women having a high viral load. Transplacental leakage of maternal blood may also be the culprit in transmitting the virus from the mother to the fetus. However, this route is the most common one.