The liver is critical to a person’s well-being.
There are several known viruses that cause hepatitis including hepatitis A, B, C, D or E.
Sometimes called “infectious hepatitis,” hepatitis A is spread by eating food or drinking water contaminated with human feces. This type of viral hepatitis is not frequently life-threatening and resolves with supportive care.
Chronic infection with hepatitis B virus can cause liver cell damage leading to cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Hepatitis B is mainly transmitted through sexual contact, wounds, body secretions, and contaminated needles, and from an infected mother to her newborn.
There may be no symptoms. Persons with acute infection may have mild, flu-like symptoms, decreased appetite, nausea, light stools, dark urine, fatigue, fever, or jaundice. Most persons with chronic hepatitis B infection have no symptoms until they develop cirrhosis or liver cancer. The most common symptom of chronic hepatitis B infection is fatigue.
Prevention is the best treatment. There is a vaccine for hepatitis B. Hepatitis B vaccine is safe and highly effective. There are five approved treatments for hepatitis B. Standard interferon and pegylated interferon are administered as injections while lamivudine, adefovir and entecavir are administered orally. Two of these treatments were approved by the FDA in 2005: pegylated interferon alfa 2a and entecavir.
Approximately 70,000 people per year in the US develop acute hepatitis B infection; and roughly 1-1.25 million Americans are chronically infected.
Those who have unprotected sex with infected/multiple partners. Healthcare workers and emergency response personnel who come in contact with blood and blood products. Infants born to infected mothers. Injection drug users.
Vaccination. Safe sex. Protective gloves when exposed to blood. Clean up spilled blood with bleach. Do not share razors or toothbrushes. Screening of pregnant women in the US has nearly eliminated newborn infection because at-risk infants receive immunoglobulin and vaccination shortly after birth and are protected. Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all newborns, children and adolescents; and adults who are at risk of hepatitis B infection.
Hepatitis C is a virus that rarely causes acute illness, but becomes a chronic disease in most infected people. It can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Hepatitis C is transmitted through contact with infected blood, contaminated needles, or other sharp instruments, and from infected mother to newborn. It is not easily spread through sex. In about 10% of cases, the route of infection is not known.
Most people with hepatitis C do not feel ill or become sick until 20 years after contracting the virus. Those with long-standing hepatitis may have non-specific symptoms such as fatigue and stomach pains. If hepatitis C progresses to advanced liver disease, patients may develop jaundice, abdominal swelling, internal bleeding or mental confusion (encephalopathy).
There is currently no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C. Treatment is available and cure is possible. Medication is now available which allow for high rates of cure with minimal side effects. Talk to one of our providers today about treatment options.
Approximately 3-4 million Americans are chronically infected. In addition, there are estimated to be 40,000 new infections per year.
Don’t use drugs. Safe sex. Protective gloves when exposed to blood. Clean up spilled blood with bleach. Do not share razors or toothbrushes. Get tested if you are at risk!
This form of viral hepatitis is found most often in intravenous (IV) drug users who are also carriers of the hepatitis B virus. Hepatitis D is spread only in the presence of the hepatitis B virus and is transmitted through the same ways. As hepatitis D occurs in people who have viral hepatitis B, it is a serious health problem, and may increase the severity of symptoms associated with hepatitis B.
This form of viral hepatitis is similar to viral hepatitis A and is found most often in people who live in countries with poor sanitation. It is rare in North America and rarely life-threatening.
Acute hepatitis is the initial infection. Acute hepatitis may be mild or severe. If the infection lasts for six months or longer the condition is called chronic hepatitis. Hepatitis A and E do not cause chronic hepatitis. The hepatitis viruses B, C and D can produce both an acute and chronic episode of illness. Chronic hepatitis B and C are serious health problems.