Hepatitis in Washington
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What is hepatitis?
Across the world, nearly 300 million individuals are living their daily lives without knowing they have a condition called viral hepatitis. Hepatitis, when considered at its most basic definition, is described as the inflammation of the liver. Most well-known include hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. These three variations of hepatitis reference the type of virus causing liver inflammation. Each type of hepatitis can be considered a unique disease since every form responds to different treatments. Please call Washington Gastroenterology today if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with or may already have hepatitis. Our seasoned GI providers regularly treat patients with hepatitis in Washington.
What is hepatitis A (HAV)?
The variation referred to as hepatitis A (HAV) is highly contagious and typically impacts people who consume beverages or foods that have been in contact with fecal excrements or another individual infected by the disease. Although incredibly infectious, it is not as dangerous as other types of hepatitis. Hepatitis A can be prevented with vaccination and is treatable by a healthcare provider.
Patients with hepatitis A might notice signs or symptoms that include:
- Dark-colored urine (jaundice)
- Abdominal pain
- Unintentional weight loss
- A yellowing of the skin and/or eyes
- Nausea and vomiting
- Decreased appetite
The standard treatment for HAV is to rest, stay well-hydrated, and avoid alcohol. The majority of cases of hepatitis A will clear up on their own. To prevent hepatitis A, individuals can request a hepatitis A vaccine from their provider or our Washington Gastroenterology office.
What is hepatitis B (HBV)?
Hepatitis B (HBV) is a more severe form of viral hepatitis. If the virus is not treated, it can lead to liver cancer and liver failure. If adults get hep B, their bodies can typically fight it off over a few months. Once the virus has subsided, immunity results. However, if you get HBV during birth, the virus is unlikely to disappear. Hep B is usually spread through blood, saliva, sexual fluids, using a needle after someone with the virus, or transmitted at birth.
Some of the common signs and symptoms of hepatitis B consist of the following:
- Abdominal pain
- Persistent fatigue
- Aching joints
- Decreased appetite
- Light-colored stool
If you may have been exposed to HBV, it is important to see your medical provider or contact Washington Gastroenterology as soon as possible. The quicker you undergo care, the better for your health and wellness. Your healthcare provider will likely advise a hepatitis B vaccine and additional antiviral medication.
What is hepatitis C (HCV)?
Generally transmitted through bodily fluids (including blood), hepatitis C (HCV) is another viral infection that can cause damage to a person's liver. This form can develop into two types: acute hepatitis C or chronic hepatitis C.
- Acute hepatitis C is less concerning and usually lasts six months, after which most patients' immune systems will overcome the viral infection.
- Chronic hepatitis C occurs when the immune system cannot ward off the viral infection after the first six months and impacts the body for a prolonged time. This may result in longer-term medical issues, such as cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.
The most common hepatitis C symptoms involve:
- Itchy skin
- Jaundice (yellow eyes and skin, dark urine)
- Bleed easily
- Slurred speech
- Undesired weight loss
- Swelling in the legs
- Clay-colored stool
- Loss of appetite
- Pain in the abdominal area
- Joint pain
- Bruise easily
- Severe exhaustion
- Nausea and vomiting
Hepatitis C has a cure rate of more than 90%. Standard treatment options for hepatitis C include:
- Antiviral drugs
- Liver transplant (chronic hepatitis C)
How can I avoid getting hepatitis?
The most effective method of protection against getting hepatitis A or B is to be vaccinated for the infection. It is recommended to have young children vaccinated for hepatitis A between the ages of 12 – 23 months; however, patients can also receive the vaccine at any point after that. Vaccination for hepatitis B is generally administered to newborns, but patients can receive the vaccine at any stage in life. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C.
Additional ways to prevent contracting hepatitis are:
- Use protection when having sex
- If traveling, determine whether the location you are visiting has high rates of hepatitis infection
- Be sure to always wash your hands after using the restroom or coming into contact with any bodily fluids
- Avoid sharing personal hygiene items like toothbrushes, razors, etc.
- Avoid consuming unclean food and water, eating uncooked meat, and purchasing food from street vendors
- Ensure any needles you use have been properly sterilized, such as when getting tattoos or piercings or if injecting illicit drugs
Treatment for patients with hepatitis
Although a hepatitis infection can potentially lead to concerning health conditions, including cancer of the liver and liver failure, treatment can be found with help from your gastrointestinal specialist. Please call your local Washington gastroenterologist if you notice any worrisome gastrointestinal signs or symptoms, such as those mentioned above. As an experienced physician-led network of gastroenterologists, we strive to provide quality, patient-centric services. To receive additional information on the treatment protocols available for all types of hepatitis in Washington, talk to our caring support staff today.
I had a very positive experience with Michelle Hendricks. She is patient, thorough and easy to talk to. I felt like she addressed all of my questions with genuine concern.
Kelle Kang has been one of my specialty Doctors for over 35 years. Any time I have a question that concerns my Gastric issues, he is the first person I go to, even though I am told he is not available to see me. He always gets back to me with an answer to the question, often after hours. I would highly recommend him.
Dr. Agarwal always takes the time to listen to me and goes through my medical records thoroughly. I have been very pleased with him.
I highly recommend Dr. Selinger and her team at Overlake! She immediately puts you at ease and it’s the most professional of necessary visits. I’ll spare you the pics ;>
Dr. Donner and his staff were very kind and professional. There were no unanticipated delays or issues with the appointment. I showed up early, but that was no problem as the office was open very early and the waiting room was comfortable. The nursing staff was very kind and helpful. Although this wasn't my first rodeo (so to speak) at Dr. Donner's office, I was a bit nervous and they put me at ease. I got my test results promptly afterward. I would highly recommend Washington Gastroenterology!