Hepatitis is a condition that causes inflammation in your liver, the largest organ of your body. The liver is responsible for assisting in the digestion of the food you eat, removing toxins from the body, and storing energy.
When a virus enters the liver, it can lead to hepatitis. There are three types of hepatitis referred to by the virus that causes it, including:
This form of liver inflammation develops due to the hepatitis A virus, which you contract through infected stool, by drinking untreated water, or by sexual contact with an infected person.
This form of liver inflammation develops from the hepatitis B virus, which spreads through blood, semen, and other bodily fluids.
This form of liver inflammation develops from the hepatitis C virus. A hepatitis C diagnosis can be acute, with the infection lasting for several weeks, or chronic, in which the disease can be lifelong and increase your risk for permanent liver damage, cancer, or death.
You can also develop hepatitis as the result of drug or alcohol use that causes cirrhosis or liver scarring, or due to an autoimmune disorder that causes your immune system to mistakenly attack healthy cells in your liver.
Symptoms of hepatitis A, B, and C are similar and can vary from person to person. If you have any form of hepatitis, you can experience symptoms like:
It’s also common to develop jaundice, a yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes if hepatitis begins to damage your liver.
If you experience any symptoms of hepatitis or have contact with an infected person, you should schedule diagnostic testing at Digestive Disease Care as soon as possible.
The medical team at Digestive Disease Care offers in-office blood testing to evaluate your liver health. These tests can confirm the type of hepatitis you have and allows your provider to assess the function of your liver.
You may also need imaging tests, like an ultrasound, to assess the severity and location of hepatitis-related inflammation in the liver.
If you’re experiencing jaundice as a result of a hepatitis infection, your Digestive Disease Care provider may recommend a liver biopsy. This minimally invasive procedure involves extracting a sample of tissue from your liver using a needle. A medical lab examines the sample under a microscope to confirm liver damage or identify cells changes that can indicate cancer.
Your treatment plan for hepatitis depends on the type you have. Generally, acute hepatitis A and B don’t require treatment, and you recover with short-term rest. If you have chronic hepatitis A or B, you may need antiviral medications to prevent liver damage.
Treating both acute and chronic hepatitis C typically involves antiviral medications. You may need ongoing liver tests to identify the early stages of liver damage.
To prevent infections with hepatitis A and B, you can receive vaccinations. However, there isn’t currently a preventive vaccine for hepatitis C. Your Digestive Disease Care provider can provide recommendations for avoiding reinfection with hepatitis if you’re in frequent contact with an infected person.
Don’t delay testing for hepatitis-related symptoms. Schedule a diagnostic evaluation by calling Digestive Disease Care or by booking an appointment online today.