Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"How is hepatitis contracted?"
My doctor is saying I need to have these shots that are for hepatitis. There are three of them I think. Do I really need to do that? How do you get hepatitis anyway?
There are several types of hepatitis: viral, drug induced, and autoimmune. But the most commonly discussed type is viral hepatitis. Most commonly known viral hepatitis types are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis D, and Hepatitis E. Each type is caused by a different virus, which in turn causes a different syndrome and different degree of liver damage. For example, hepatitis A is transmitted via oral-fecal route. One typically get exposed to this virus eating food prepared by someone with hepatitis A who did not have good hygiene. (Very common among travelers to Mexico). It typically causes an acute viral illness lasting 1-2 weeks and completely resolved. Hepatitis B (HBV) is transmitted by sexual contact, blood and body fluid transmission, as well as vertical transmission from mothers to their babies. This virus is very prevalent in Southeast Asia as well as in the Middle East where it is edemic. There is a vaccine to prevent both vertical transmission from mothers to their babies but this has to be given during the first day of life to the baby. Otherwise, children and adults can get a 3 shots vaccine over a 6 months period. Most people will have developed antibodies after the second and third dose. Hepatitis C is a blood/body fluid transmission route but thus far there is no available vaccine for this virus. Both hepatitis B and C can be extremely indolent and cause major liver cirrhosis and liver cancer over 1-2 decades. if you think you have contracted hepatitis, it is best to get it tested with a blood test. I recommend that you see your doctor to discuss.
Need more info?See a doctor today
Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.