Hepatitis A is an inflammation of the liver caused by highly contagious viral infections. It is most often passed through contaminated food or water, or from close contact with an infected person, but may also be transmitted sexually or through sharing needles. Although hepatitis A is not usually serious, certain measures are recommended to prevent this infection.
Symptoms of hepatitis A can vary from none at all to severe, with most cases lasting for one to two months. Common symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Muscle pain
If you are experiencing symptoms, your doctor may perform blood tests to measure bilirubin and enzyme levels. A special blood test may also be performed to pinpoint which type of hepatitis is present.
Most people do not require treatment for hepatitis A and the infection will go away on its own within a month or two. Certain options are available for relieving symptoms of the infection, but you should talk to your doctor before taking any steps. There is a vaccination for hepatitis A that is recommended for all children and people at high risk for infection. This has greatly decreased the occurrence of hepatitis A. You can also help prevent this condition by practicing safe sex and proper hygiene.
This is a liver infection caused by a viral infection that can become a serious, chronic condition and may permanently damage the liver. This infection is spread through the blood and other bodily fluids of an infected person and can be transmitted through shared needles, sexual contact, or even traveling to contaminated areas of the world.
Many people with hepatitis B experience symptoms similar to the flu. Some of these symptoms may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
Some cases of hepatitis B will be completely cleared from the body within six months, while others may become a chronic condition. Children that are infected are more likely to develop a chronic infection. If you are experiencing symptoms or have been exposed to a situation in which you may have been infected, it is important to seek immediate medical attention. Your doctor may perform a series of blood tests to diagnose hepatitis B.
Chronic hepatitis B is often monitored through regular drug treatment. Severe cases may require a liver transplant to replace a damaged liver. Hepatitis B can be prevented with a vaccine that is usually given within the first 12 hours of life. Practicing safe sex and proper hygiene can also help protect yourself against this infection.
This is a chronic liver infection that is considered the most serious of all the hepatitis viruses, as it can lead to cancer, liver failure, or cirrhosis. This virus is spread mostly through blood and can be transmitted through shared needles or blood transfusions. It can also spread through any kind of sexual contact, and from a pregnant woman to her unborn child. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C and no treatment to cure the condition either, so it is important to take precautions to prevent infection.
Many people with hepatitis C do not even know they have the disease, as it often causes no symptoms. Some people may experience mild fatigue, nausea, or joint pain. Despite the lack of symptoms, the hepatitis C virus can still cause damage to your liver and be passed to others. The condition is often not diagnosed until a routine screening examination is performed, sometimes decades after the initial infection.
It is important to seek immediate medical attention if you think you have been exposed to the hepatitis C virus. Your doctor may perform a blood test and liver biopsy to diagnose a hepatitis infection. Regular testing for people at risk of acquiring hepatitis C is recommended to detect the infection in its earliest stages, before any damage to the liver has occurred. Liver damage often occurs before any symptoms are present.
While some people recover from this condition with no permanent damage, many people experience a gradual attack on the liver that will eventually lead to cirrhosis, liver failure, or even cancer in some cases. These complications may develop after 20 to 30 years of infection with hepatitis C, which is why treatment for chronic infections is essential to preserving the health of the liver.
Hepatitis C does not always require treatment, especially if you are not experiencing symptoms and have a low risk of developing a chronic condition. Most patients undergo combination drug therapy of peginterferon and ribavirin for several months in hopes of curing the infection or preventing liver damage. A liver transplant may be required for people with severe infections. Drug treatment is usually still needed after surgery as the infection is likely to recur.
Patients who do not require treatment will likely need to undergo regular blood testing to monitor the progression of the disease and begin treatment at the earliest signs of liver abnormalities.
Although there is no vaccine, you can protect yourself against infection by practicing safe sex and proper hygiene, avoiding sharing needles and wearing gloves to touch another person’s blood. These steps are also important if you are already infected, along with avoiding alcohol and illegal drugs. Open communication with your partner and other loved ones can also help reduce your risk of spreading or contracting hepatitis C or any other STD.
Despite the serious complications associated with hepatitis C, it can be a manageable condition with proper treatment and life changes. We provide comprehensive care for hepatitis C and other STDs, and can help you develop a customized treatment plan to help you maintain an active and healthy life.