What do you know about Hepatitis disease?
Hepatitis is a disease that leads to inflammation of the liver. When the liver is inflamed, its ability to process nutrients, filter the blood and fight infection decreases.
Hepatitis is most often caused by a virus; but can also be caused by heavy alcohol use, certain medical conditions, and some medications.
The most common types of viral hepatitis include hepatitis A (caused by the hepatitis A virus), hepatitis B (caused by the hepatitis B virus), and hepatitis C (caused by the hepatitis C virus). Each virus can cause similar symptoms, but are spread in different ways and can affect the liver differently.
Hepatitis viral infections can be classified as acute or chronic.
How is hepatitis spread?
Hepatitis A virus: Hepatitis a virus is found in the stool and blood. Outbreaks are related to ingestion of contaminated food/drink or close person-to person transmission.
Hepatitis B virus: spreads when blood or certain other body fluids from a person infected with the hepatitis B virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. Examples include: direct contact with the blood or open sores of someone infected with the hepatitis b virus, sharing of medical equipment (diabetic meters, syringes, needles), personal items (toothbrush, razors; hepatitis B virus is not spread by kissing or sharing utensils, sneezing, hugging, or through food/water), sexual intercourse with an infected person
Hepatitis C virus: is spread through blood; blood from an infected person enters the body of an uninfected person. Examples include: sharing contaminated equipment (medical devices, syringes, needles), contaminated tattoo/body piercing instruments, sexual intercourse with an infected person, the Hepatitis C virus is not spread by kissing or sharing utensils, sneezing, hugging, or through food/water
What types of symptoms does hepatitis cause?
Many people do not have symptoms and do not know they are infected. Symptoms may occur with acute infection and include: fever, tiredness, joint pain, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, nausea/vomiting, dark-colored urine, light-colored stools and jaundice (yellowing of skin & whites of eyes).
Hepatitis A infections can last from several weeks to months.
Hepatitis B infections can cause a mild illness for several weeks but could lead to chronic infection. Chronic infection may lead to liver damage, liver cancer or death.
Hepatitis C infections can cause a mild illness for a few weeks, but may lead to chronic illness. Most individuals infected with viral hepatitis C will develop chronic hepatitis C infection.
How can I protect myself/my family from the hepatitis virus?
Vaccines exist for both the hepatitis A virus & hepatitis B; there is no vaccine for the hepatitis C virus. Vaccines have shown to be safe and effective; serious reactions are rare.
Hepatitis A - Proper hygiene; washing hands before preparing food; washing hands after diaper changes and restroom use. Vaccination with the full series of hepatitis A vaccine is the best way to prevent infection from the hepatitis A virus. Routine vaccination begins at 12 months of age; catch-up vaccinations for unvaccinated or incomplete series should be considered.
Hepatitis B – Avoid sharing medical equipment, follow proper infection control within healthcare settings.
Vaccination with the full series of hepatitis B vaccine is the best way to prevent infection from the hepatitis A virus. Routine vaccination begins at birth; catch-up vaccinations for unvaccinated or incomplete series should be considered.
Individuals may also receive a combination vaccine series for hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
Hepatitis C – Avoid sharing medical equipment, including needles and syringes. If suspected infection, bloodwork should be completed immediately to determine positive hepatitis C viral infection. Treatment is available and can cure most infections.
Ask your pharmacist if you have questions about your vaccination status
What kind of side effects to expect after vaccination for hepatitis?
Side effects after vaccination can include pain, redness, & swelling at the injection site. You may also experience muscle aches/pain, fatigue, & headache. Most side effects from the vaccination last approximately 48 hours or less.
Because of age or health conditions, some people should not get certain vaccines or should wait before getting them. This includes patients that have had an allergic reaction after a previous shot of a hepatitis vaccine or any severe allergies to vaccine ingredients (hepatitis A – neomycin; hepatitis B- yeast).
Will I need a prescription for this vaccine?
Ask your pharmacist; most Lewis Drug locations have an agreement with local providers that allows for individual screening & vaccination at the pharmacy that same day.
What is the cost of the vaccine?
The cost of the vaccine will depend on your insurance. Ask your pharmacist regarding your coverage
CDC Hepatitis A Q&A for the public https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hav/afaq.htm
CDC Hepatitis B Q&A for the public https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hbv/bfaq.htm
CDC Hepatitis C Q&A for the public https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hcv/cfaq.htm
Hepatitis A - Vaccine Information Statement - https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/hep-b.html
Hepatitis B - Vaccine Information Statement - https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/hep-a.html