Hepatitis A and hepatitis B are viral liver infections. They have similar symptoms but different potential complications and modes of transmission. A person can prevent both viruses through vaccination.
“Hepatitis” is a general term for inflammation of the liver. Inflammation can cause the liver to stop functioning properly, leading to a range of potential health effects.
Viral infections are a common cause of hepatitis. Two of the
Hepatitis A and hepatitis B have some similarities, such as their preventive measures, and important differences, including how they spread, their symptoms, and the length of infection.
This article reviews hepatitis A and hepatitis B, including their differences, similarities, and prevention methods.
The hepatitis A virus
Some people with hepatitis A will not develop any signs or symptoms. Adults are the most likely to develop symptoms, which can last for less than 2 months to more than 6 months.
Hepatitis B is another viral infection that affects the liver. The condition may be acute or chronic. Chronic hepatitis B affects
Hepatitis B has several similar symptoms to hepatitis A. Most adults with compromised immune systems and children under 5 years of age will show no symptoms. An estimated
Hepatitis A and hepatitis B have some similarities.
Both conditions directly affect the liver. According to the
- loss of appetite
- abdominal pain
- dark urine
- light-colored stools
- joint pain
Vaccines are available for hepatitis A and hepatitis B. The
Though hepatitis A and hepatitis B both affect the liver, they have several differences.
How they spread
Learn more about hepatitis B carriers and transmission.
In the United States, hepatitis A
Once a person
The hepatitis B virus, however,
Learn more about hepatitis B and immunity.
Length of infection
Hepatitis B can be a chronic condition that lasts for the rest of a person’s life. People
Learn more about the hepatitis B incubation period.
Hepatitis A is an acute infection that lasts a
People who have had hepatitis A
Risk of liver damage
According to the CDC,
However, hepatitis A
Hepatitis A typically spreads through a fecal-oral route, often via food that contains the virus. A person can
- thoroughly washing their hands before and after using the toilet, before preparing food, and after changing diapers
- sanitizing surfaces that may have had contact with the virus
- getting vaccinated, particularly before international travel
- heating foods to 185°F (85°C) or higher for at least 1 minute
Hepatitis B can spread through sexual contact and sharing instruments that puncture the skin or come in contact with bodily fluids. Some ways to reduce exposure risk
- using barrier methods during sex
- avoiding recreational drug use involving needles
- not sharing razors, toothbrushes, or other objects that come in contact with bodily fluids
- getting vaccinated
- wearing gloves when cleaning up blood that contains the virus
Here are some frequently asked questions about hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
Is hepatitis A worse than hepatitis B?
Both hepatitis A and hepatitis B affect a person’s liver. Hepatitis A is an acute infection. In rare cases, a person may need hospitalization to treat dehydration.
A person may feel worse during a hepatitis A infection but will recover from it. With hepatitis B, they may develop a chronic infection that can cause liver damage and liver cancer.
Do you need both a hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccine?
Hepatitis A and hepatitis B are different viruses that require different vaccines. In the United States, the
While hepatitis A and hepatitis B both affect the liver and have similar symptoms, they are different viruses. They differ in transmission methods, potential complications, and outlook.
Hepatitis A is an acute infection that can spread through contact with food or feces that contains the virus. Hepatitis B spreads through contact with blood, semen, or other bodily fluids.
Hepatitis B can turn into a lifelong condition, but a person will typically fully recover from a hepatitis A infection.
A person can prevent both infections through vaccination and by taking precautions, such as using barrier methods during sex and thoroughly washing their hands after using the bathroom.