Hepatitis A and B vaccine

Abdomen | Gastroenterology | Hepatitis A and B vaccine (Disease)


Hepatitis is the medical term for inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis may be acute (lasting only for the short term, after which a person recovers) or chronic (lasting for the long term, usually more than 6 months).

Causes and Risk factors

Hepatitis A is mainly transmitted through the fecal-oral route. That means infected people shed viruses in their feces. If they dont observe proper hygiene, the virus can end up on their hands. Its then spread by food theyve handled, or sometimes by touching other people who then bite their nails, handle their food, and so on.

Hepatitis B is spread by blood and body fluids. The main routes of transmission are through sexual contact, sharing needles, tattooing and body piercing, and childbirth (when the baby is likely to pick up the virus from the mother through the birth canal). Hepatitis B has an additional complication - some infected people become lifelong carriers, whether they have symptoms or not. Many infected people are asymptomatic (without symptoms) but can pass on the virus.

Diagnosis and Treatment

There is no specific treatment for HAV and most people fight off the virus naturally, returning to full health within a couple of months. The doctor will advise avoiding alcohol and fatty foods as these can be hard for the liver to process and may exacerbate the inflammation.

Patients should get plenty of rest and eat a nutritious diet. They should also ensure they do not spread HAV by washing their hands after using the toilet and before preparing food. Patients with more severe symptoms may be monitored in hospital for a short period.

Regarding the Hepatitis B in most countries a patient with a positive test result will be referred to a specialist who will carry out further tests to determine the degree to which hepatitis B may be affecting the liver, and what may be the best treatment options. In these tests a small sample of liver tissue may need to be taken (a liver biopsy).

In the majority of patients with active HBV, symptoms will not be severe and treatment will not be required. The patient will be monitored and after a few months the patient’s immune system should fight off the virus, giving the patient natural immunity. ...