Many types of hepatitis can be prevented by making informed lifestyle choices. Vaccinations are available for hepatitis A and B. Adequate sanitation and clean personal habits will help reduce the spread of hepatitis A and hepatitis E. In areas where sanitation is questionable, boil water. Cook all food well and peel all fruit.
Health care workers or caregivers involved in the treatment of patients with contagious forms of hepatitis should wash their hands, utensils, bedding, and clothing with soap and hot water.
Many people with hepatitis go undiagnosed, because the disease is mistaken for the flu or because there are no symptoms at all. The most common symptoms of hepatitis are:
Loss of appetite
Muscle or joint aches
Nausea and vomiting
Less common symptoms include:
Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
Altered mental state, stupor, or coma
People planning to travel to countries where hepatitis is widespread are advised to have vaccinations before leaving. Immune serum globulin may prevent infection from some types of hepatitis after exposure if administered within a certain time frame.
To prevent the spread of hepatitis B, avoid exposure to infectious blood or body fluids. Do not have intimate contact or share razors, scissors, nail files, toothbrushes, or needles with anyone who has the disease. If you suspect that you have been exposed to hepatitis B, you should receive immune serum globulin and vaccinations for the viruses as soon as possible. In the U.S., all children are advised to receive a series of hepatitis B vaccine before starting school. The hepatitis A vaccine is also recommended for children in areas with high prevalence of the disease. There is currently no vaccine against hepatitis C.
American Academy of Family Physicians.
WebMD Medical Reference: "Hepatitis C."
WebMD Medical Reference: "Hepatitis B."
WebMD Medical Reference: "Combination antiviral therapy for hepatitis C."
Manual of Family Practice.