Hepatitis in Ocean Springs, MS
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What is hepatitis?
Across the globe, nearly 300 million people are living unaware that they have viral hepatitis. Hepatitis, at its most simple description, is swelling or inflammation of the liver. Most commonly heard of include hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. The three types of hepatitis mentioned here are defined according to the form of the virus that causes liver inflammation. Each form of viral hepatitis can be considered a unique disease because each infection responds to different treatments. If you or someone you love suspects or has been diagnosed with hepatitis, please contact Digestive Health Center today. Our experienced GI providers treat individuals with hepatitis in Ocean Springs, MS.
What is hepatitis A (HAV)?
The type of hepatitis labeled as hepatitis A (HAV) is known to be highly contagious. It typically infects those who drink or eat something that has been around feces or other individuals who have the disease. Although incredibly infectious, it is not exceptionally dangerous compared to the other forms. Hepatitis A is preventable by vaccination and is treatable by a healthcare practitioner.
Individuals with hepatitis A might experience signs or symptoms that include:
- Pain in the abdominal area
- A yellowing of the eyes and/or skin
- Unexplained weight loss
- Vomiting and nausea
- Loss of appetite
- Dark-colored urine (jaundice)
The standard treatment approach for HAV is to rest, consume fluids, and avoid alcohol. In most instances, hepatitis A will clear up on its own. To avoid getting hepatitis A, you can receive a hepatitis A vaccine from your provider or our Ocean Springs, MS gastroenterology team.
What is hepatitis B (HBV)?
The variation of the virus referred to as hepatitis B (HBV) is a more concerning type of viral hepatitis. Left untreated, it has the potential to result in liver failure and even cancer of the liver. Should an adult get HBV, their bodies can typically fight it off within a few months. When the virus has waned, immunity results. However, when people get hepatitis B during birth, the virus is unlikely to subside. Hep B is most often transmitted via blood, sexual fluids, saliva, using a needle after a person is infected with the virus, or if your mother had hepatitis B while pregnant with you.
Common signs and symptoms of hepatitis B consist of:
- Light-colored stool
- Appetite loss
- Aching joints
- Abdominal pain
- Chronic fatigue
If you think you may have been exposed to HBV, it is essential to see a medical provider or contact Digestive Health Center as soon as possible. The quicker you get care, the better for your health. Your provider may advise hepatitis B vaccination and other antiviral drugs.
What is hepatitis C (HCV)?
Usually spread through bodily fluids (including blood), hepatitis C (HCV) is another viral infection that can damage the liver. This variation can occur in two distinct types, acute hepatitis C and chronic hepatitis C.
- Acute hepatitis C is less severe and usually lasts for six months. After six months, most people’s immune systems will overcome the viral infection.
- Chronic hepatitis C develops when a patient's immune system cannot fight off the infection over the first six months and infects the body for an extended period. This type of hepatitis C can lead to longer-term health diseases, like liver cancer and liver cirrhosis.
Common signs and symptoms of hepatitis C are as follows:
- Joint pain
- Loss of appetite
- Swelling in the legs
- Clay-colored stool
- Bleed easily
- Nausea and vomiting
- Bruise easily
- Jaundice (yellow skin and eyes, dark urine)
- Severe exhaustion
- Slurred speech
- Unintentional weight loss
- Itchy skin
- Pain in the abdominal area
Hepatitis C has a cure rate of higher than 90%. Common treatments for hep C involve:
- Antiviral drugs
- Liver transplant (chronic hepatitis C)
How can I avoid getting hepatitis?
The most effective way to avoid getting hepatitis A or B is to be vaccinated for the virus. It is recommended to have children vaccinated for hepatitis A between the ages of 12 – 23 months, but you can receive the vaccine at any age after that. The hepatitis B vaccine is commonly provided to newborns, but you can have the vaccine at any time in life. Currently, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C.
Other healthy habits to prevent developing hepatitis are listed below:
- Be sure to always wash your hands after coming into contact with any bodily fluids or using the bathroom
- Avoid consuming uncooked meat and unclean food or water and buying food from street vendors
- Before traveling, check if the location you are going has high rates of hepatitis infection
- When having sex, use protection
- Do not share personal hygiene items like toothbrushes, razors, etc.
- Make sure any needles you use are properly sterilized, such as when getting piercings or if utilizing illicit drugs
Find treatment for hepatitis
Though a hepatitis viral infection can lead to significant health conditions, such as cancer of the liver and liver failure, treatment can be found with help from your gastrointestinal provider. If you notice any distressing gastrointestinal symptoms or signs like those listed above, please reach out to Digestive Health Center as soon as possible. As an experienced physician-led network of gastroenterology experts, we offer exceptional, patient-focused care. To further explore the treatments available for all forms of hepatitis in Ocean Springs, MS, talk to our caring support staff at a location near you today.
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