Hepatitis in Louisiana

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Worldwide, 290 million people are unaware that they have viral hepatitis. Hepatitis, at its most basic description, involves swelling or inflammation of the liver. The most common are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. These three forms of hepatitis are defined based on the form of virus that results in the inflammation of the liver. Each individual variation of viral hepatitis can be deemed a unique disease as each variation responds to varying interventions. If you or a family member may have, or has been diagnosed with a form of hepatitis, please reach out to GastroGroup & Endocenter today. 

The type known as hepatitis A (HAV) is quite transmittable and frequently infects people who eat or drink something that has been exposed to feces or another person that has the virus. Type A it is not as dangerous compared to the other types. HAV is preventable by vaccination and can be addressed by a medical practitioner.

If you have hepatitis A, you might experience symptoms that include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Yellow eyes, yellow skin
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dark urine (Jaundice)
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Unintentional weight loss

The most common treatment approach for hepatitis A is to rest, stay well-hydrated, and avoid alcohol consumption. In most situations, hepatitis A will subside on its own. To avoid HAV, patients can get a hepatitis A vaccination from your healthcare provider or our Louisiana gastroenterology office.

The form of the virus known as hepatitis B (HBV) is a more concerning form of the infection. Without treatment, it can possibly cause cancer of the liver and liver failure. Should an adult get HBV, their bodies should be able to fight it off over the course of a few months. When the virus has subsided, an immunity occurs. When individuals contract hepatitis B during birth, however, it is unlikely to subside. HBV is usually communicable through saliva, blood, sexual fluids, using a needle after someone with the virus, or if a person's mother had HBV during pregnancy.

The common signs and symptoms of hepatitis B are listed below:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Aching joints
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Light-colored stool
  • Vomiting
  • Jaundice
  • Fever
  • Appetite loss

If you have been infected by the hep B virus, we encourage you to see your physician or contact GastroGroup & Endocenter as soon as possible. The faster you receive care, the better. Your physician will probably recommend hepatitis B vaccination and other antiviral prescriptions.

Commonly carried through bodily fluids (like blood), hepatitis C (HCV) is another virus that can injure your liver. The disease can develop into two different variations, acute hepatitis C or chronic hepatitis C.

  • Acute hepatitis C is the less severe form of hepatitis C and commonly lasts over a six-month timeframe. After six months, the majority of people’s natural immune response will overcome the virus.
  • Chronic hepatitis C happens when your immune system cannot fend off the virus within the first six months and the virus infects the body for a lengthier period of time. Unfortunately, this can cause longer term health diseases, such as cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.

Common symptoms of hepatitis C consist of:

  • Jaundice (yellow eyes and skin, dark urine)
  • Bruise easily
  • Severe fatigue
  • Swelling in the legs
  • Slurred speech
  • Joint pain
  • Bleed easily
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Itchy skin
  • Loss of appetite
  • Clay-colored stool
  • Confusion
  • Abdominal pain

The care rate of HCV is higher than 90%. The most common treatments for HCV are as follows:

  • Antiviral medications
  • Liver transplant (chronic hepatitis C)
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The greatest method of protection against getting hepatitis A or B is to get vaccinated for the virus. Healthcare practitioners advise to have children vaccinated for hepatitis A between 12 months and 23 months of age, but you can also have the vaccine at any age after that. The hepatitis B vaccine is generally provided to newborns, but patients can have the vaccine at any age in life. There is no current vaccination process for hep C.

Additional healthy practices to prevent contracting hepatitis include:

  • Do not share personal hygiene items, like toothbrushes, razors, etc.
  • Avoid consuming uncooked meat and unclean food or water, and eating food from street vendors
  • When having sex, use protection
  • Before traveling, check if the location you are visiting has elevated incidences of hepatitis infection
  • Be sure to always wash your hands with soap and water after using the restroom or coming into contact with any bodily fluids
  • Make certain any needles you use are sterilized, such as when getting tattoos or piercings or if using illicit drugs

While a hepatitis infection can potentially lead to significant health conditions, such as liver cancer and liver failure, it is generally treatable with help from your gastrointestinal physician. If you are having any concerning GI symptoms or signs, such as any of the symptoms discussed above, reach out to GastroGroup & Endocenter as soon as possible. As a leading physician-led team of gastroenterologists, we endeavor to provide quality, patient-focused care. To further explore the treatments available for all forms of hepatitis in Louisiana, talk to our caring support staff today.

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