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May 30, 2017

Hepatitis A & B Vaccines: Why You Should Get Them

Hepatitis is a gastrointestinal disease that is categorized into three separate types: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. There is currently no vaccine available for Hepatitis C; however patients are invited to learn more about Hepatitis C treatment options. Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, vaccines are available for patients through our Patient Education on our website.

Many patients wonder why the vaccines for these diseases are needed, especially if they decide that that they aren’t at risk for contracting either form of the disease. It is up to your gastroenterologist to determine a person’s risk factor for Hepatitis. Hepatitis can be harmful to a person’s long-term wellbeing therefore it is very important to be aware of the vaccination and its benefits.

To begin, there are notable differences between Hepatitis A and B. Hepatitis A is caused by the hepatitis A virus, HAV and is a serious liver disease. It is known to spread through food, water, or contact with a person that is infected. The symptoms of an individual who has contracted hepatitis A can be subtle, so it will not always be obvious that he or she is suffering from a serious illness. Both hepatitis A and B can be acute and last for a few weeks, but hepatitis B can linger and cause a chronic illness that can stay with a person for their entire life. Hepatitis B is cause by the HBV virus and is spread through contact with a person’s bodily fluids, such as blood or semen. Symptoms of both forms of the disease can include: flu-like symptoms, achy muscles, jaundice, stomach pains, and loss of appetite. A blood test will be used to confirm a hepatitis A or B diagnosis.

Vaccinations against hepatitis A and hepatitis B are important. Hepatitis A is not as common in the United States today due to generally high levels of sanitation, but for those intending to travel outside of the country, especially for those considering travel to remote areas the Hepatitis A vaccine is highly recommended.

Since hepatitis B is a major cause of serious, long-term liver diseases such as cirrhosis and liver cancer, the hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all newborns, infants, children, and those age nineteen and younger. For adults, hepatitis B vaccine need is determined more so on the basis of whether a person lives in an area with high rates of hepatitis B or if they are at risk for the HBV virus.

If you have not yet received a hepatitis A and/or hepatitis B vaccine and are interested in discussing your risk factor with a doctor, please contact a physician at inSite Digestive Health Care today to book a consultation.