Understanding these conditions puts you in a better position when it comes to protecting yourself from them

Hepatitis can be one of the most difficult viral diseases to get your head around, seeing as there are five different forms of the condition. While some forms of hepatitis are more common and therefore get more attention than others, each form of hepatitis has its own set of symptoms, risks and causes surrounding it.

So it’s important to understand what these forms of hepatitis do, how they are transmitted and the steps you can take to protect yourself from them. This is particularly true for travellers who plan on exploring parts of the world where hepatitis is a greater risk, like South America, Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia.

To help expand your knowledge of the condition, we’ve put together this handy guide explaining the difference between hepatitis A and B.

What is hepatitis?

Hepatitis refers to an inflammation of the liver. Your liver can become inflamed for a number of reasons, from injury to too much alcohol, but it can also occur as the result of a reaction to bacteria or a virus.

The five most common kinds of the hepatitis virus are A, B, C, D and E. Some forms of hepatitis can lead to severe, lifelong afflictions like fibrosis, cirrhosis, liver failure or even liver cancer, so avoiding hepatitis is extremely important. Damage to the liver can reduce its ability to function normally, making it harder for your body to filter toxins out.

Hepatitis A vs. Hepatitis B

Both hepatitis A and B impact the health of your liver, yet the viruses differ greatly.

Hepatitis A is primarily caused by poor sanitation and personal hygiene, meaning it can be spread through food or drink which has been contaminated. This is often the result of the area having little access to waste management and clean water systems.

On the other hand, hepatitis B is blood-borne pathogen, meaning it is primarily transmitted via blood-to-blood contact with an infected person. Unlike hepatitis A, you cannot contract hepatitis B through sharing food or holding hands with an infected person.

Hepatitis A is an acute infection, staying in the body for a short amount of time and typically resulting in a full recovery within a few weeks. People infected with hepatitis A generally develop symptoms within four weeks of exposure, and these symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, fever, abdominal pain and dark urine.

Meanwhile, hepatitis B begins as a short-term infection but can progress into a chronic or even long-term condition. In many cases, there are no obvious symptoms for hepatitis B, but it is the world’s leading cause of liver cancer and can lead to serious liver-related diseases such as cirrhosis.

Hepatitis A rarely cause lasting liver damage, but in a small number of cases it can lead to acute liver failure called fulminant hepatitis.

Preventing hepatitis

Both hepatitis A and B can be avoided when you protect yourself with vaccinations. The hepatitis A vaccination is given in two doses over the course of six months, while the hepatitis B vaccination is given in three doses over the same period.

If you are travelling to any of the areas associated with a high risk of hepatitis, it is absolutely vital that you get the necessary vaccinations before you go. This will offer significant protection from the condition, and could even save your life.

Both the Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B vaccination are available from Express Travel Clinic. Call us now on 0208 993 5889 or click here to book online and get protected for your travels.