Hepatitis in Utah
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What is hepatitis?
An estimated 300 million individuals all over the world are unaware that they are living with a condition called viral hepatitis. Hepatitis, broken down to its simplest description, is essentially liver inflammation. The most common forms are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. These three types of hepatitis are labeled in reference to the type of virus that results in liver inflammation. Each individual variation of hepatitis can nearly be deemed a unique disease, as each form of infection responds to varying treatments. If you or a member of your family has been diagnosed with, or suspects, a variation of hepatitis, please contact Utah Gastroenterology today. Our skilled GI specialists routinely treat patients with hepatitis in Utah.
Hepatitis A (HAV)
Hepatitis A (HAV) is one of the more contagious variants of the hepatitis virus, frequently infecting individuals who consume food or drinks that have been in contact with feces or with another person who has HAV. While extremely contagious, it is not as dangerous to your health as the other forms of hepatitis. Hepatitis A can be avoided with a vaccine and can be addressed by a medical provider.
If you have hepatitis A, you might have the following signs and symptoms:
- Appetite loss
- Unexplained weight loss
- Dark urine (jaundice)
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- A yellowing of the skin and/or eyes
The standard treatment intervention for hepatitis A is to rest, stay well-hydrated, and avoid alcohol. Most cases of hepatitis A will clear up on their own. To avoid getting HAV, you can schedule a hepatitis A vaccination from your medical provider or our Utah gastroenterology office.
Hepatitis B (HBV)
Of the three primary forms of the virus, hepatitis B (HBV) is potentially the most concerning. In the absence of medical care, it has a chance to lead to cancer of the liver and liver failure. When adults get hepatitis B, their bodies should be able to fight it off within a few months. When the virus has waned, you become immune. Individuals who are born with hepatitis B, however, are unlikely to lose the condition over time. Hep B is most often passed through blood, saliva, sexual fluids, using a contaminated needle, or through the mother during pregnancy.
Common symptoms and signs of hepatitis B involve:
- Aching joints
- Decreased appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Chronic fatigue
- Light-colored stool
If you feel that you have been infected by hepatitis B, we urge you to see your healthcare provider or contact Utah Gastroenterology as soon as possible. The sooner you undergo treatment, the better for your health and wellness. Your doctor will most likely recommend a vaccine for HBV along with other antiviral medication.
Hepatitis C (HCV)
The third common form of the hepatitis virus, hepatitis C (HCV), is spreadable through bodily fluids (including blood), damaging the liver as it infects the body. This variation can develop into two separate types, acute hepatitis C or chronic hepatitis C.
- Acute hepatitis C is less severe and often lasts over a six-month timeframe. After six months, most patients' natural immune response will overpower the virus.
- Chronic hepatitis C develops when a patient's body cannot fight off the virus over the first six months and it causes infection in the body for a longer period of time. This, unfortunately, can cause chronic medical issues, like cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.
The most common hepatitis C signs and symptoms involve:
- Jaundice (yellow skin and eyes, dark urine)
- Unintentional weight loss
- Swelling in the legs
- Itchy skin
- Clay-colored stool
- Pain in the abdominal area
- Extreme exhaustion
- Bleed easily
- Nausea and vomiting
- Bruise easily
- Joint pain
- Slurred speech
- Appetite loss
Hepatitis C has a treatment cure rate of over 90%. The routine treatment methods for HCV involve:
- Liver transplant (chronic HCV)
- Antiviral drugs
How can I protect against hepatitis?
Hepatitis A and B are best avoided by making sure you are vaccinated against them. Medical professionals recommend having young children vaccinated for hepatitis A between 12 months and 23 months of age, but individuals can have the vaccine at any time after that. Vaccination for hepatitis B is typically administered to newborns, but people can get the vaccine at any time in life. There is no vaccination process for hep C.
Further healthy ways to avoid developing hepatitis are:
- Be sure any needles you use have been properly sterilized, such as when getting tattoos or piercings or if using illicit drugs
- Always wash your hands with soap and water after touching any bodily fluids or using the restroom
- Do not share personal hygiene products, such as razors, toothbrushes, etc.
- Use protection when having sex
- Avoid consuming uncooked meat and unclean food or water, and buying food from street vendors
- Prior to traveling, check if the place you are visiting has elevated incidences of hepatitis infection
Get treatment for hepatitis
Hepatitis can trigger potentially serious health issues, including liver cancer or liver failure, but it is treatable with help from a qualified GI specialist. Should you have any distressing gastrointestinal symptoms, such as any of those listed above, reach out to Utah Gastroenterology. As a leading physician-led group of gastroenterology experts, we strive to provide exceptional, patient-centric services. To find out more about the treatment approaches available for all types of hepatitis in Utah, talk to our friendly staff today.
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I had an emergency visit. They got me in quickly and we’re very helpful. I really appreciate the help. Feeling much better
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