There are vaccines against both hepatitis A and B. They provide about 90% protection that can last from 10 to 20 years. Anyone who is at risk of getting these viruses should be vaccinated. Canadian schools have hepatitis B vaccination programs.
But whether you're immunized or not, the best protection is to be careful when choosing sexual partners. The government estimates that at least 100,000 Canadians are chronic carriers of hepatitis B. You can also reduce the risk of hepatitis B by not sharing personal care items that may be contaminated with blood (e.g., razors, toothbrushes) and by ensuring that tattoos and piercings are performed with cleaned and sterilized equipment. Good personal hygiene can also help prevent the spread of hepatitis A.
If you are exposed to hepatitis A or B (e.g., you have recently had sexual intercourse with a hepatitis A or B carrier), you may also be eligible to receive immune globulin, which contains antibodies that may help prevent and decrease the severity of hepatitis A or B infections. Immune globulin is most effective if given as soon as possible after the exposure.
Pregnant women are routinely screened for hepatitis B. If it's found, they may be treated with oral medications during the pregnancy. The baby is given hepatitis B vaccination and also immune globulin, a preparation made from the immune blood of someone who was previously infected.
Most people with hepatitis A or B will recover without treatment within 4 to 8 weeks after symptoms start.
Antiviral medications such as lamivudine* and peginterferon alfa, along with some others, can be used to treat some people with chronic hepatitis B. These medications do not cure the condition or stop it from being passed on to others, but they may reduce virus levels and activity, which can help reduce the signs of liver damage.
People who have been diagnosed with hepatitis A or B should avoid alcohol for at least 3 months or until their liver tests and liver function are normal.
*All medications have both common (generic) and brand names. The brand name is what a specific manufacturer calls the product (e.g., Tylenol®). The common name is the medical name for the medication (e.g., acetaminophen). A medication may have many brand names, but only one common name. This article lists medications by their common names. For information on a given medication, check our Drug Information database. For more information on brand names, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2017. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/condition/getcondition/Hepatitis-A-and-B