What is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis is a condition that causes liver inflammation and can be due to alcohol, drug use or certain health problems. However, a virus is most often responsible for hepatitis. The most common types of viral hepatitis include A, B and C:
This condition is highly contagious and can be spread from person to person. Fortunately, this form of hepatitis only causes a mild infection and many people with it don’t even know they are sick. Many times hepatitis A will go away on its own without causing long-term damage to the liver. Hepatitis A is spread through food or water and common food culprits include fruits, vegetables and shellfish.
Those with hepatitis B often experience milder symptoms for a short period of time before getting better on their own. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to shed the virus and the infection can become chronic. Hepatitis B can lead to other complications like liver failure or cancer. This form of hepatitis is often spread through unprotected sex, but it’s also possible to spread through contact with blood or other bodily fluids.
Only about one-fourth of people who develop hepatitis C actually get rid of it on their own, while the majority will carry this virus for the rest of their lives. Just like chronic hepatitis B, long-term hepatitis C can also cause other issues like liver failure and cancer. Hepatitis B can be transmitted through blood, such as sharing needles.
While symptoms don’t always have to be apparent in the first few weeks after being infected when the symptoms do manifest you may experience,
- Lack of an appetite
- Stomach pain
- Low-grade fever
- Jaundice (yellow skin or eyes)
When hepatitis B and C are chronic a person may not experience any symptoms for years, but by the time there are symptoms the liver may already be damaged.
Hepatitis A will almost always go away on its own without treatment. Chronic hepatitis B will require monitoring and treatment to prevent it from damaging the liver. While not always prescribed, sometimes antiviral medications can help.
Chronic hepatitis C will also require treatment. There are several FDA-approved medications for treating this condition and to prevent liver complications. Even though the virus isn’t gone, the best-case scenario is that the virus won’t show up in the blood six months after your treatment ends.
Need more information on hepatitis treatment from RIverdale Gastrolenterology & Liver Disease in Bronx, NY? Call (718) 543-3636 to learn more.