Do You Need a Vaccine for Hepatitis?

Hepatitis, which comes in three forms (A, B and C), is a disease that lead to the inflammation of the liver. Viral infection is the leading cause of hepatitis, although it can also be brought about by drugs and medications. Vaccines for the A and B types have been introduced many years ago. There’s no vaccine for the C type yet. Before you determine if you’re in need of the vaccine or not, study more about the different types of hepatitis and other ways to prevent it.

Hepatitis A affects about 20,000 people in the United States annually. This infection usually goes away on its own and doesn’t bring serious problems to the liver. It can, however, spread very easily. You become infected with Hepatitis A if you consume food or drinks that have been contaminated with stool that contains this virus. Eating properly cooked food, drinking sanitary water, and washing hands frequently can help prevent this disease. It can also be contracted through sexual contact so practicing safe sex can reduce the risk.

Hepatitis B affects more than 40,000 people in the United States every year. This type may last from weeks to months.
It is broken down into two subtypes: acute hepatitis B and chronic hepatitis B.

Acute Hepatitis B is when adults get it for a short time and recover. During this time, you may not know you have it as you may not have any symptoms. But you can still spread it to other people.

Chronic Hepatitis B is when the virus inflicts a long-term infection. This one can lead to liver damage over time. It is spread through contact with infected blood or exposure to bodily liquids of an infected person such as:
– sexual contact
– sharing needles
– getting a tattoo or piercing

This can be prevented by practicing safe sex and getting tattoo and piercing only from sanitary and licensed places.

Hepatitis C is the most serious form. It is caused by a virus that infects the liver and this can lead to serious health consequences such as:
– liver damage
– liver cancer
– liver failure
– cirrhosis (scarred and poorly functioning liver)

Most people who have hepatitis C do not know that they have it until they already experience liver damage. But it can take many years for this to happen. Like hepatitis B, hepatitis C also has acute and chronic types. It can be contracted through exposure from an infected person’s blood.

Who Needs the Hepatitis A and B Vaccines?
The hepatitis A vaccine is given in two shots.
The hepatitis B vaccine is given in three shots.

These vaccines have become part of the immunization schedule of children.
Adults who have not gotten these as children should definitely get these immunizations.

People who are especially in need of the hepatitis A vaccine are:
– those who are suffering from chronic liver disease
– those who take medications that have clotting concentrates
– those who travel or work in areas where there is an outbreak of this disease
– those who work in settings that put them in possible contact with this disease

Those who are at greater risk of hepatitis B and should get a vaccine are:
– those with HIV infection
– those with kidney or liver disease
– those whose work expose them to human blood
– those who live with someone suffering from this disease
– those who are sexually active and have various sex partners
– those who travel or work in areas where there is an outbreak of this disease

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