Father’s Day, June 21, is a day to celebrate the contributions men make in their children’s lives. It’s also a good day for fathers to acknowledge how valuable they are to their families and how important it is to take care of their health.
Living with chronic hepatitis B can be challenging. Here are some things dads can do to take care of themselves or family members infected with hepatitis B.
1. Get outside and soak in some sunlight and some vitamin D. People with hepatitis B who have vitamin D deficiencies have higher rates of liver damage, cirrhosis and cancer. A healthy diet provides vitamin D, but 80 percent of our vitamin D comes from 15 minutes of exposure to sunlight two to three times a week. So get outside and walk, garden, exercise and soak in some healthy sunlight.
2. Relieve your stress. Having a chronic infection is stressful. Stress can weaken your immune system, which needs to stay strong to fight hepatitis B. Here are some ways to reduce stress.
- Physical exercise: Get off the couch and move. Walk, play a game with your kids, mow the lawn or go to a park and shoot hoops or practice tai chi. Every type of physical activity strengthens your immune system, balances blood sugar levels, provides energy and reduces stress.
- Try yoga: Yoga is a gentle way to slowly stretch your muscles, which reduces stress as it improves your posture. If you can’t get to a yoga class, buy a video and follow along, or do stretching exercises on your own.
- Get a massage: Yes, even men enjoy massages. They reduce stress, improve your mood and increase helpful endorphins.
- Keep your stress reduction program going! Whatever you find that helps reduce stress, keep at it, don’t quit after a few days or weeks. Stress will never totally go away, so give yourself permission to enjoy exercise or other relaxation practices to bring some tranquility to your life.
3. Get regular check-ups: You may worry about your health and if you’ll be able to support your family in the future. Getting regular check-ups is a good way to make sure your liver stays healthy and you get treatment if you ever need it. Because hepatitis B causes few side effects, it’s easy to “forget” you’re due for a lab test. We would all like to forget we have an infection, but getting good medical care is the best gift you can give yourself and your family.
4. Protect your partners and family from infection: In addition to protecting your health, make sure your partner and family members are protected against hepatitis B. Have they been screened for infection and immunized with the full three doses of the vaccine? Also, don’t forget to clean up and disinfect after any blood spills. Don’t let your children don’t use your razor blades, nail clippers or toothbrushes and make sure your sexual partner is also protected. That’s what fathers do!