There are different kinds of hepatitis, a virus that affects the liver.
Many people are familiar with hepatitis C, but lately, it is hepatitis A that is making the news. That’s because of an outbreak of the virus has hit the United States. In fact, in Florida, officials have declared hepatitis A a public health emergency. If you are unfamiliar with hepatitis A, knowing more about it may help you to protect your older family member from the virus.
How Does Hepatitis A Affect Health?
Hepatitis A attacks the liver. However, it generally takes weeks for symptoms to appear. Some of the symptoms of hepatitis A are:
Usually, hepatitis A isn’t chronic and doesn’t cause serious liver damage. However, older adults are at a higher risk for a sudden loss of liver function, especially if they already have other liver conditions. People who experience liver failure need to be hospitalized for treatment and monitoring. In some cases, they may even need a liver transplant.
How is the Virus Spread?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the best way to avoid getting hepatitis A is to get vaccinated. To be fully protected, more than one shot is needed. However, how many shots are needed and when they need to be given depends on the kind of vaccine the person receives.
In addition to getting a vaccine, hepatitis A can be prevented by following good hygiene habits.
Seniors and their caregivers need to be conscientious of thoroughly washing their hands throughout the day, especially after using the bathroom and before handling food.
If your aging relative needs a hepatitis A vaccine, home care can help them to get one. A home care provider can assist with scheduling an appointment and driving the senior to the doctor’s office. Home care providers can also protect the older adult from the virus by reminding them to wash their hands often and by washing their own hands.