Hepatitis is a health condition that causes the liver to become inflamed. There are various types of hepatitis, which vary in their causes, symptoms, and severity. In this article, two of the most common forms of the virus, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, will be addressed.
Hepatitis A Virus (HAV)
Hepatitis A Virus is a viral condition that generally results in acute liver inflammation. Though HAV is generally acquired by individuals who have consumed contaminated food or water, the disease can also be acquired through sexual practices. The virus is found in the feces of infected individuals. HAV is highly infectious, and can easily be spread from person to person.
Most individuals will not be seriously affected by Hepatitis A. The condition generally leads to only mild symptoms, and most individuals will recover from the condition without further treatment. These individuals will generally remain immune from Hepatitis A infections for the rest of their lives.
Some individuals, however, are serious affected by HAV. Older individuals are particularly vulnerable to suffering from more serious cases of HAV. Symptoms of HAV can begin 15-50 days after infection occurs. These symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue, and yellow skin and eyes. If you are suffering from severe symptoms and believe you may have HAV, consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Hepatitis A can be prevented by getting the Hep A vaccine and by using good health practices, such as washing your hands after using the restroom. If you are travelling to a less developed part of the world, getting the HAV vaccine is highly recommended. Hepatitis A is prevalent throughout most third-world countries, and you risk becoming infected.
Hepatitis B Virus (HBV)
Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with the blood, body fluids, or semen of individuals who are infected with the virus. The virus is most commonly transmitted when a person has unprotected sex with an infected individual or through contact with an infected individual’s blood. Sharing contaminated needles or drug-related paraphernalia can lead to the spread of HBV. Infected mothers can also pass the condition along to their children at birth.
HBV can result in acute or chronic illness. The condition is particularly prevalent in the developing world.
HBV can be prevented through proper vaccination. Almost anyone can become infected by Hepatitis B, so vaccination is critical. Symptoms of infection generally appear 60 to 150 days after infection occurs. As with all varieties of hepatitis, symptoms include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, diarrhea, jaundice, and more.
Safe and effective vaccines are available to prevent HBV. Vaccination is the best way to avoid acquiring HBV. Once acquired, the condition can become chronic. Though modern medications have been shown to reduce symptoms in over 40% of HBV patients, there is currently no cure for the virus. Chronic HBV sufferers are at risk of developing serious conditions such as liver cancer or liver failure. Due to these risks, it is especially important to be vaccinated against Hepatitis B.
It is much easier to prevent Hepatitis A and B than it is to treat them. If you are not vaccinated against HAV and HBV, consult your doctor to learn more about your immunization options. Getting vaccinated just might save your life.