Hepatitis in Houston, TX
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What is hepatitis?
There are nearly 300 million people believed to be living with viral hepatitis without even knowing it. Hepatitis, at its most fundamental description, is inflammation of the liver. The most commonly diagnosed varieties are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. The three types of hepatitis mentioned here are named based on the type of virus that results in the inflammation of the liver. Each single variation of viral hepatitis can nearly be regarded as a unique disease being that each variation of infection responds to varying treatments. If you or someone you love may have, or has been diagnosed with hepatitis, contact Gastroenterology Consultants. Our board-certified GI specialists treat patients with hepatitis in Houston, TX.
Hepatitis A (HAV)
The form of hepatitis classified as hepatitis A (HAV) is extremely contagious and often affects individuals who have consumed food or drinks that have been exposed to fecal waste or to other individuals who are hepatitis-positive. Although quite transmittable, it is not as concerning compared to the other types. HAV can be avoided with vaccination, and is treatable by a healthcare provider.
People with hepatitis A could notice signs or symptoms that include:
- Dark urine (jaundice)
- Vomiting and nausea
- Unexplained weight loss
- Abdominal pain
- Yellow skin, yellow eyes
- Decreased appetite
The most common treatment approach for hepatitis A is to rest, drink fluids, and avoid alcohol. The majority of cases of HAV will resolve on their own. To avoid getting HAV, you can request a hepatitis A vaccine from your medical practitioner or our Houston, TX gastroenterology office.
Hepatitis B (HBV)
Hepatitis B is a more concerning form of the hepatitis virus. In the absence of treatment, it has the potential to cause liver failure and even liver cancer. When adults get hep B, their bodies should be able to fight it off over a few months. After the virus has diminished, immunity results. Individuals who contract hepatitis B at birth are more at risk, as it's much less likely to subside on its own. HBV is most often transmitted through saliva, sexual fluids, blood, using a contaminated needle, or passed from an infected pregnant woman to her child during birth.
The common symptoms of hepatitis B are as follows:
- Decreased appetite
- Persistent fatigue
- Pain in the abdominal area
- Aching joints
- Light-colored stool
If you have possibly been infected by the hepatitis B virus, we encourage you to see a healthcare provider or contact Gastroenterology Consultants as soon as possible. The sooner you undergo care, the better. Your healthcare provider will most likely administer a vaccine for hepatitis B and additional antiviral medication.
Hepatitis C (HCV)
Usually spread through blood and other bodily fluids, hepatitis C (HCV) is another form of the virus that can cause damage to the liver. It can occur in two separate variations, acute hepatitis C or chronic hepatitis C.
- Acute hepatitis C is the less severe form of hepatitis C and commonly takes six months to subside, after which most patients' natural immune response will defeat the viral infection.
- Chronic hepatitis C arises when your body cannot stave off the virus over the first six months and the virus causes infection in the body for a prolonged timeframe. This type of hepatitis C could lead to chronic medical concerns, like liver cirrhosis or liver cancer.
The most common hepatitis C symptoms consist of:
- Bruising easily
- Abdominal pain
- Extreme fatigue
- Joint pain
- Bleeding easily
- Clay-colored stool
- Unexplained weight loss
- Itchy skin
- Slurred speech
- Jaundice (yellow eyes and skin, dark urine)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Appetite loss
- Swelling in the legs
Hepatitis C has a cure rate of above 90%. The most common treatment options for HCV consist of:
- Liver transplant (for chronic hepatitis C)
- Antiviral drugs
How can I prevent from getting hepatitis?
The greatest way to avoid contracting hepatitis A or B is to be vaccinated for the infection.
The most effective way to avoid contracting hepatitis A or B is to be vaccinated for the virus. Healthcare practitioners advise having young children vaccinated for hepatitis A when they are between the ages of 12 – 23 months, but individuals can have the vaccine at any age after that. Vaccination for hepatitis B is usually provided to newborns; however, patients can get the vaccine at any time in life. There is no current vaccination process for hepatitis C.
Additional healthy habits to prevent getting hepatitis are:
- Do not share personal hygiene items, like razors, toothbrushes, etc.
- Avoid consuming uncooked meat and unclean food or water, and eating food from street vendors
- Make certain any needles you use have been properly sterilized, such as when getting tattoos or piercings or if using illicit drugs
- Prior to traveling, learn whether the place you are going has elevated rates of hepatitis infection
- Use protection when having sex
- Always wash your hands with soap and water after using the restroom or coming into contact with any bodily fluids
Treatment for patients with hepatitis
Although a hepatitis infection could cause concerning medical problems, including loss of liver function and liver cancer, treatment can be obtained with help from a GI physician.
Hepatitis can lead to more distressing medical problems, including loss of liver function and liver cancer. Treatment is available for hepatitis, though. If you are experiencing any bothersome GI symptoms such as any of those discussed above, contact Gastroenterology Consultants right away. As a leading board-certified team of gastroenterology experts, we endeavor to offer quality, patient-centric care. For further details about the treatment protocols available for all types of hepatitis in Houston, TX, talk to our caring team today.
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