Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. One or more viruses usually cause hepatitis. It can also be caused by toxic substances, like alcohol, being exposed to the liver.
Different types of hepatitis:
This virus type is most prevalent in areas with poor sanitation and when people ingest contaminated food and water. The symptoms related to hepatitis A typically fade away in approximately three months. While there is no specific treatment, your doctor may give you medication to help relieve the discomfort of symptoms. There is a vaccination to protect against hepatitis A that people who are traveling to countries where the virus is common should consider.
The hepatitis B virus is usually spread through blood and body fluids. Unprotected sex and sharing needles are common means of transmission. It is also common in some foreign countries.
Most people can fight off the virus and fully recover in a matter of months. In fewer cases a long-term infection may result in chronic hepatitis B. There is a vaccine available for hepatitis B that should be used by people traveling to countries where the virus is common or if they are in a high-risk group.
The hepatitis C virus is usually transmitted in blood, though it may also be transferred through other body fluids. It is not unusual for people to experience no symptoms or confuse the symptoms for something like the flu. Most people fight off the virus naturally and become virus free. If the virus does not clear up by itself antiviral medication may be used. At this time there is not a hepatitis C vaccine available.
Liver damage caused by drinking large amounts of alcohol can lead to hepatitis. Since symptoms are not usual for this type of hepatitis it is usually discovered by a blood test. Continuing drinking alcohol after being diagnosed with alcohol hepatitis can lead to cirrhosis and liver failure.
There are additional rare types of hepatitis including hepatitis D, hepatitis E and autoimmune hepatitis.
Hepatitis symptoms can include:
- High temperature
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
Most people who have hepatitis A or E typically getter better on their own in a few weeks. For these types of hepatitis management can include:
- Bed rest
- Not drinking alcohol
- Medications for symptom relief
Hepatitis B is treated with medication
Hepatitis C is treated with a combination of medications
For serious cases of hepatitis B, C or D that result in liver failure a liver transplant may be the only option.
For more information about hepatitis management or to schedule an appointment, please call the office of Singaram Gastroenterology at 605-310-2000.