Bioherb -

Hepatitis B and C:

An overview of the disease, its prevention and control

Hepatitis B and C are viruses that cause hepatitis (infection of the liver). There are many other hepatitis viruses - such as Hepatitis A, D, and E but Hepatitis B and C are the main causes of chronic Viral Hepatitis.

According to the World Heath Organization (WHO), 2 billion people have been infected with Hepatitis B worldwide out of which 400 million have become chronic carriers. In addition, there are 180 million chronic carriers of Hepatitis C. Hepatitis C is reported to be one of the main causes of liver transplants in the US.

How does the Hepatitis virus damage the liver?

Viruses have either RNA (Hepatitis C) or DNA (Hepatitis B), and being non-living they are referred to as viral particles. They multiply inside the host cell by using the host's cells DNA and RNA. As the number of viral particles (virions) increase inside the liver cell, the infected liver cells rupture and each virion that comes out is capable of invading another healthy liver cell. This rapid viral multiplication causes the death of millions of healthy liver cells.

What are the symptoms of viral Hepatitis?

In acute cases of viral hepatitis there are symptoms such as high fever, severe body aches, loss of appetite, jaundice, yellow eyes and skin, severe joint pain, pale to white stool and yellow urine. However, in chronic cases there may or may not be any symptoms and that is why most chronic hepatitis B and C patients do not even know about their disease until it is too late or they get diagnosed through some non-specific random blood tests for life insurance or other purposes.

How is viral Hepatitis diagnosed?

In cases of acute or chronic viral Hepatitis, a blood test indicating an increase in the level of liver enzymes (AST, ALT and GGT) that are released from the dead and the injured liver cells would prompt a doctor to investigate it further. If hepatitis is suspected, a blood test can determine the presence of Hepatitis B or C surface antigen and if positive, it can be further confirmed by another more accurate test called polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

How is Hepatitis B or C transmitted?

It can be transmitted from person to person through contaminated body fluid, blood transfusion, surgery, dental work, contaminated dialysis machines, needles, tooth brushes and intimate contact. Though many male chronic carriers of Hepatitis B and C whose partners are negative, it is very likely that Hepatitis B and C patients can transfer the virus to their partners. Taking precautions can greatly reduce the risk of transmission.

How to find out when one contracted the virus?

Worldwide there are more than a billion people carrying Hepatitis viruses and it is not that easy to determine when they were infected. However, a serological test, if done within 3 to 6 months of the first time infection, can determine if the infection is a recent one or not. If done later than 6 months, the test will indicate a chronic carrier with an unknown date of infection.

Is complete recovery possible?

Research data shows that 85% of adults and 15% of infants born with the virus can completely clear the virus. During the acute phase of infection there are severe hepatitis symptoms and a high level of liver enzymes (ALT, AST, GGT) in the blood. If the patient survives, liver enzymes gradually drop to normal, other symptoms improve significantly, and the patient will eventually return to their normal state of health. Unfortunately, 85% of infected infants and 15% of infected adults cannot clear the virus and become chronic carriers for life. Children born from infected mothers may not show any obvious symptoms until they reach the age of 40 or above. This is why most chronic carriers are not aware of their infection.

How are viral Hepatitis B and C treated?

There is no magic cure or effective treatment for acute or chronic viral hepatitis. The costly anti viral drug Viread that is used for the treatment of Hepatitis B has limited success and some severe side effects such as lactic acidosis. For chronic hepatitis cases, interferon combined with an anti-viral drug is used with various degrees of success depending on the viral genotype and the patient's health status. This therapy is very costly and people in many countries around the world cannot afford it. Though many individuals clear the virus with this treatment, individuals who have experienced only a viral count reduction may experience an increase in their viral count within a few months of stopping the treatment. If interferon does not work, doctors usually try to control other complications and treat the symptoms as they develop.

The deterioration of a Hepatitis patient's health depends on the level of liver damage caused by the virus. The malfunction of a damaged liver can result in many other problems such as jaundice, water build-up in the legs and abdomen, kidney failure due to low Albumin (a form of protein synthesized in the liver), or encephalopathy (a specific change of mental status) due to high level of ammonia in the blood and many other symptoms. If not controlled, a liver transplant is the only option otherwise the symptoms will advance and cause multi-organ failure and death.

Liver transplants are not cheap or 100% safe either. One has to be lucky to find a liver donor with a matching tissue type and be able to pay the high cost of it. Depending on which country it is preformed in, a liver transplant can cost anywhere from $70,000 to $800,000. Since Hepatitis B and C are viruses, there is no guarantee that the circulating viruses in the patient's blood are not infecting the transplanted liver. In addition, most liver recipients are on anti-organ rejection or immune suppressant drugs which make them more vulnerable to other infections. Unfortunately, despite one third of the world's population currently suffering from some form of a liver problem and billions of dollars spent on research worldwide, no effective medicine or treatment is available for liver problems.

The good news is that Liv-Herbal Formula, researched and developed by Bio-Herb Remedies Inc.(Canada) is one of the best natural products for the treatment of liver diseases including Hepatitis B and C.Since 2002, we have seen amazing results with Liv-Herbal Formula in the cases of many patients. It has not only reduced the Hepatitis C and B viral count by up to 98-99%, it also has significantly reduced inflammation and necrosis of the liver and improved its function and Albumin production naturally.

Hepatitis B and C and Marriage:

Being aware of having Hepatitis B or C before marriage can contribute greatly to the protection of one's partner and future children. Since a Hepatitis B or C positive mother can transfer the virus to her infant, millions of children are born with the disease. If a man is known to be a chronic carrier of Hepatitis B, he can easily get his partner vaccinated before marriage and avoid pregnancy until the wife develops the necessary antibodies. Through this, the wife and the next generation can be protected. This is not applicable to Hepatitis C patients but other precautions can be taken to limit the risk to the fetus. If a woman gets Hepatitis B or C from her newly married husband and develops symptoms of viral hepatitis, she should wait for a year before getting pregnant. During this time, if she clears the virus naturally and develops immunity she can get pregnant with no risk to the fetus.

How to control and prevent Hepatitis B and C?

Vaccines are available for Hepatitis A and B with immense effectiveness. After 5 to 10 years of vaccination, antibody titer should be checked to make sure it stays high enough to defend the body in case of any exposure to the viruses. At present, there is no vaccine available for Hepatitis C, therefore, one has to take as much precautions as possible. Unlike hepatitis A that can be transmitted through food and drinking water, Hepatitis B and C cannot be transmitted through casual day to day social contact.

The healthcare givers in hospitals and public health departments such as doctors, dentists, nurses, and paramedics are well trained to take every precaution. There are also many rules and regulations in place to prevent the spread of disease such as blood screening and proper sterilization of all medical equipments and machines. Following instructions properly can greatly prevent the spread of this disease. Chronic Hepatitis B or C patients can also play a major role in controlling the disease by taking precautions to prevent the spreading of the virus to their family members and others.