Protecting yourself from hepatitis


By Pam Daniel - For the News Journal



Millions of Americans are living with viral hepatitis, but many do not know they are infected. Learn what you can do to protect yourself.

Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). HAV is found in the stool and blood of people who are infected.

Hepatitis A is very contagious. It is spread when someone unknowingly ingests the virus through close personal contact with an infected person or through eating contaminated food or drink.

Symptoms of hepatitis A can last up to 2 months and include fatigue, nausea, stomach pain, and jaundice. Most people with hepatitis A do not have long-lasting illness.

Hepatitis B is a vaccine-preventable liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV).

Hepatitis B is spread when blood, semen, or other body fluids from a person infected with the virus. This can happen through sexual contact; sharing needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment; or from mother to baby at birth. Symptoms can include fatigue, poor appetite, stomach pain, nausea, and jaundice.

For many people, hepatitis B is a short-term illness. For others, it can become a long-term, chronic infection that can lead to serious, even life-threatening health issues like cirrhosis or liver cancer.

Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver cancer. Today, most people become infected with the hepatitis C virus by sharing needles or other equipment used to prepare and inject drugs.

For some people, hepatitis C is a short-term illness, but for more than half of people who become infected with the hepatitis C virus, it becomes a long-term, chronic infection. People with chronic hepatitis C can often have no symptoms and don’t feel sick.

When symptoms appear, they often are a sign of advanced liver disease. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C. The best way to prevent hepatitis C is by avoiding behaviors that can spread the disease, especially injecting drugs.

Getting tested for hepatitis C is important, because treatments can cure most people with hepatitis C in 8 to 12 weeks. The CDC recommends all adults and pregnant women get tested for hepatitis C.

The Clinton County Health District offers both Hepatitis A & B vaccinations. Appointments can be made by calling 937-382-3829, ext. 125 or scheduling online at https://bit.ly/3bjLlem .

Source: CDC

Pam Daniel, MSN, RN, is Health Educator for the Clinton County Health District.

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By Pam Daniel

For the News Journal