Hepatitis in Indianapolis, IN
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What is hepatitis?
Around the globe, nearly 300 million individuals are living their lives without the knowledge that they have a condition known as viral hepatitis. Hepatitis, at its most simple definition, is described as swelling or inflammation of the liver. Most commonly heard of, include hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. These three forms of hepatitis are defined based on the strain of virus that causes the inflammation of the liver. Each individual form of viral hepatitis can practically be deemed a unique disease being that each form of infection responds to different treatment approaches. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with, or suspects, a type of hepatitis, contact Indianapolis Gastroenterology and Hepatology. Our experienced GI experts commonly treat patients with hepatitis in Indianapolis, IN.
Hepatitis A (HAV)
Hepatitis A (HAV) is incredibly communicable and frequently infects individuals that drink or eat something that has been in contact with fecal matter or another individual who is positive for the disease. Albeit highly transmittable, it is not as harmful compared to the other types. HAV can be prevented with a vaccine and can be treated by a healthcare practitioner.
Patients with hepatitis A might have signs or symptoms that include:
- Unintentional weight loss
- Dark urine (Jaundice)
- Yellow skin, yellow eyes
- Abdominal pain
- Decreased appetite
- Vomiting and nausea
The most prevalent treatment for HAV is to get plenty of rest, drink fluids, and avoid alcoholic beverages. Most cases of hepatitis A will clear up on their own. To avoid contracting HAV, patients can receive a hepatitis A vaccination from your doctor or our Indianapolis, IN gastroenterology facility.
Hepatitis B (HBV)
The form of the virus known as hepatitis B (HBV) is a more severe type of hepatitis. Without treatment, it has the potential to cause liver cancer and liver failure. If adults get hepatitis B, their bodies can usually fight it off over a few months. After the virus has diminished, an immunity develops. If individuals get hepatitis B during birth, however, it is unlikely to subside. Hepatitis B is usually communicable through blood, saliva, sexual fluids, using a needle after someone with the virus, or if your mother had hepatitis B while pregnant with you.
Some of the common symptoms of hepatitis B involve:
- Light-colored stool
- Persistent fatigue
- Aching joints
- Pain in the abdominal area
- Decreased appetite
If you feel that you have been exposed to the hepatitis B virus, we urge you to see your doctor or contact Indianapolis Gastroenterology and Hepatology as soon as you can. The earlier you receive care, the better. Your medical provider will probably administer hepatitis B vaccination and additional antiviral medication.
Hepatitis C (HCV)
Typically carried via blood and other bodily fluids, hepatitis C (HCV) is a viral infection that can harm the liver. The disease can develop into two different forms, acute hepatitis C or chronic hepatitis C.
- Acute hepatitis C is less concerning and typically takes six months to subside, after which most people’s natural immune response will overpower the viral infection.
- Chronic hepatitis C happens when a person's body cannot stave off the viral infection within the first six months and the virus lingers in the body for a prolonged amount of time. This, unfortunately, can result in more long-term health diseases, such as liver cancer and liver cirrhosis.
Common signs and symptoms of hepatitis C involve:
- Itchy skin
- Severe fatigue
- Swelling in the legs
- Unwanted weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Jaundice (yellow skin and eyes, dark urine)
- Bruise easily
- Abdominal pain
- Joint pain
- Bleed easily
- Appetite loss
- Slurred speech
- Clay-colored stool
The treatment cure rate of hepatitis C is more than 90%. Routine treatments for hepatitis C consist of:
- Antiviral drugs
- Liver transplant (chronic HCV)
What is autoimmune hepatitis?
Autoimmune hepatitis is a result of when the body's immune system starts to attack your liver cells. It is a chronic disease that can cause long-term inflammation and liver damage. The exact cause of autoimmune hepatitis isn't known. However, there is a link between this condition and individuals who have an existing autoimmune disease. This includes those with ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, type 1 diabetes, and more. It is rare, but certain medications can also trigger autoimmune hepatitis. A few of the symptoms of autoimmune hepatitis can include the following:
- Extreme fatigue
- Abdominal pain
- Joint pain or swelling
- Larger abdomen due to a large liver and spleen
- Pale or gray-colored stools
- Loss of appetite
- Rectal bleeding or vomiting blood
- Loss of appetite
- Spiderlike blood vessels in the skin
Contact our GI providers if you believe you're experiencing symptoms related to autoimmune hepatitis. We will work with you to ensure you get a proper diagnosis and treatment. Request a consultation for additional information.
How can I prevent getting hepatitis?
The most effective method of prevention against experiencing hepatitis A or B is to receive a vaccine for the viral infection. It is advised to have young children receive a vaccine for hepatitis A between the ages of 12 months to 23 months, but people can get the vaccine at any time after that. Vaccination for hepatitis B is commonly given to newborns, but people can get the vaccine at any stage in life. There is no current vaccine for hepatitis C.
Further healthy methods to avoid getting hepatitis include:
- Avoid sharing personal hygiene items, like razors, toothbrushes, etc.
- Avoid eating uncooked meat, consuming unclean water and food, and buying food from street vendors
- Use protection when having sex
- Prior to traveling, check if the place you are going has elevated rates of hepatitis infection
- Make sure any needles you use are sterilized, such as when getting piercings or if utilizing illicit drugs
- Be sure to always wash your hands with soap and water after using the bathroom or touching any bodily fluids
Treatment for patients with hepatitis
While a hepatitis infection can potentially result in concerning health problems, including liver failure and liver cancer, it is generally treatable with help from a gastrointestinal specialist. Should you have any distressing GI symptoms or signs, such as the ones discussed above, please contact Indianapolis Gastroenterology and Hepatology promptly. As a leading physician-led network of gastroenterologists, we aim to provide quality, patient-focused care. For more information about the treatment approaches available for all types of hepatitis in Indianapolis, IN, speak with our caring support staff today.
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