Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver caused by drugs, medications, excessive alcohol use, an autoimmune disorder, or a virus. Hepatitis may be acute or chronic and may spread from person to person, depending on the type of hepatitis you have.
There are different types of hepatitis – let’s look at what they are.
Hepatitis A is one of the most common types of hepatitis and is usually acute. It is inflammation of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus. The disease is spread through contact or by consuming contaminated water and food. Hepatitis A is more common in places with poor sanitation.
A person who has contracted hepatitis A may take weeks to show symptoms, which include lack of appetite, nausea, fever, and diarrhea. Another common symptom is the skin and eyes turning yellow (jaundice). Some people with hepatitis A may be asymptomatic. Although some patients can overcome the virus on their own, most require medical attention.
Vaccination can protect you from contracting hepatitis A, especially prior to traveling to countries where hepatitis A is more common. Therefore, it’s important to discuss any international travel with your primary care physician beforehand.
Hepatitis B is an acute or chronic condition that produces the same symptoms as hepatitis A. It is spread through contact with infected bodily fluids or drug paraphernalia. In addition, you may also contract it from infected tattoo and piercing needles.
For some people, hepatitis B becomes a chronic or long-term condition. With chronic hepatitis B, you are at risk of developing liver disease or liver cancer.
Like hepatitis A, you can get a vaccine for hepatitis B. Talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated.
Hepatitis C does not usually cause severe symptoms. People with hepatitis C may experience similar symptoms as people with hepatitis A and B. They may also feel joint pain and muscle weakness. However, not all individuals experience symptoms, and many go long periods of time without knowing they have the condition.
Hepatitis C is as contagious as hepatitis A and B. You are at risk of developing liver cirrhosis and cancer with hepatitis C. The condition spreads through drug use involving needles and straws, having unprotected sex with an infected person, or contact with contaminated tattoo equipment.
Currently, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C.
Hepatitis D only develops among people who have chronic hepatitis B. This condition is contracted through contact with infectious blood. Symptoms are similar to that of hepatitis B. This type of hepatitis is rare in the United States and is more common in regions such as South America, West Africa, Central Asia, and the pacific islands.
There is no treatment for hepatitis D. People with cirrhosis or liver damage as a result of the condition may need a liver transplant.
Hepatitis E is commonly contracted by drinking water contaminated with fecal matter. Symptoms include lack of appetite, jaundice, and nausea. Like hepatitis D, this condition is rare in the United States and is more common in places with unsanitary water access. Hepatitis E generally goes away on its own after a few weeks, although your doctor may prescribe a medication called ribavirin to help improve liver function.
Hepatitis Treatment in Central Texas
Treatment for hepatitis will depend on the type of hepatitis you have contracted, the progression of the condition, and your overall health.
At Austin Gastroenterology, we are proud to serve patients in central Texas. Our goal is to deliver professional and patient-centered care to every patient. If you suspect you have hepatitis, we are happy to get you a prompt diagnosis and effective treatment.