Hepatitis is an inflammatory liver disease that can become debilitating and eventually lead to death. Preventing hepatitis is often a lot easier than effectively treating it, so it is important for individuals to take precautions to avoid contracting or spreading the virus. Tactics for preventing hepatitis vary according to the type of hepatitis, but in general involve getting vaccinated against hepatitis, practicing good hygiene, and, in some cases, practicing safer sex.
There are several different types of hepatitis. Hepatitis A is typically transmitted through exposure to an infected person's feces. Hepatitis B can be transmitted through contact with urine, blood, or vaginal fluids or semen. Hepatitis C is usually transmitted through direct contact with infected blood.
Effective vaccines for both hepatitis A and B exist, so individuals who are potentially at risk for these conditions should consider getting vaccinated. Since preventing hepatitis A often involves reducing exposure to infected feces, washing hands thoroughly after using the toilet and before and after handling food is a good practice. Hepatitis A can also be spread through the water supply. If you live in an area with inadequate water sanitation facilities, consider boiling your water before consuming it or simply drinking bottled water.
Preventing hepatitis B can be a bit more complex. Avoid sharing grooming and personal care items, such as toothbrushes, razors, or nail clippers, as these may contain traces of blood. General cleanliness in the bathroom is also important. Keep the toilet and surrounding areas well scrubbed and practice regular hand-washing. As hepatitis B can be spread through sexual contact, individuals should be careful about whom they have sex with and use condoms or dental dams during sexual activity. Medical offices and clinics should be careful about the disposal of medical tools, samples, and bandages.
Hepatitis C is primarily spread through contact with blood. Though hepatitis C is one of the most dangerous forms of hepatitis, sufferers may experience no symptoms, though damage to the liver may be taking place. Hepatitis C can be spread by sharing hypodermic needles or through other direct contact with blood. While hepatitis C is generally not spread through casual or sexual contact, it is generally wise for individuals to use condoms or dental dams during sex with those who may be infected with hepatitis C. As with hepatitis B, strict precautions should be taken when disposing of medical tools and bandages that may have been exposed to the blood of someone with hepatitis C.