Hepatitis in San Antonio, TX
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What is hepatitis?
Across the globe, 290 million individuals are unaware that they are living with a condition known as viral hepatitis. Hepatitis, according to its most basic description, is liver inflammation. The most common types include hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. These three types are designated based on the strain of the virus that leads to liver inflammation. Each individual form of viral hepatitis can practically be considered a unique disease since each form of the infection responds to distinct treatments. If you have been diagnosed with or suspect you have a variation of hepatitis, please contact your nearest San Antonio Gastroenterology Associates location. Our seasoned gastroenterology specialists routinely treat individuals with hepatitis in San Antonio, TX.
Hepatitis A (HAV)
Hepatitis A is very contagious and commonly infects people who consume foods or drinks that have been in contact with fecal excrement or other individuals who have the disease. Although quite communicable, it is not as harmful compared to other types of hepatitis. HAV can be prevented by vaccination and addressed by a medical practitioner.
Individuals with hepatitis A may experience symptoms, such as:
- Dark urine
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Yellow eyes and/or skin
- Abdominal pain
- Unintentional weight loss
The standard treatment for hepatitis A is to rest, drink fluids, and avoid alcohol consumption. Most cases of hepatitis A will clear up on their own. To avoid HAV, you can request a hepatitis A vaccination from your medical provider or our San Antonio, TX gastroenterology office.
Hepatitis B (HBV)
Hepatitis B (HBV) is a more concerning variation of viral hepatitis. It can potentially cause liver failure and even liver cancer if it is left untreated. If you are an adult and get HBV, your body can usually fight it off within a few months. Once the virus has subsided, immunity develops. If you are infected with hepatitis B at birth, however, the virus will not likely go away. HBV is commonly transmitted through saliva, blood, sexual fluids, using a contaminated needle, or if your mother had it during pregnancy.
Common signs and symptoms of hepatitis B consist of:
- Abdominal pain
- Light-colored stool
- Aching joints
- Persistent fatigue
- Decreased appetite
If you think you may have been exposed to hepatitis B, please see your provider or contact a San Antonio Gastroenterology Associates location near you as soon as you can. The faster you receive care, the better. Your medical practitioner will most likely administer a vaccine for HBV and further antiviral medication.
Hepatitis C (HCV)
Usually transmitted via blood or other bodily fluids, hepatitis C (HCV) is another viral infection that can harm your liver. It can manifest itself in two different types: Acute hepatitis C or chronic hepatitis C.
- Acute hepatitis C is less severe and commonly lasts for more than a six-month period. Afterward, most people's immune systems will overcome the virus.
- Chronic hepatitis C develops when the immune system is unable to fight off the viral infection over the first six months, and the virus affects the body for an extended amount of time. This can cause chronic health problems, like hepatic cirrhosis (liver cirrhosis) and liver cancer.
The most common hepatitis C symptoms include:
- Slurred speech
- Joint pain
- Jaundice (yellow skin and eyes, dark urine)
- Severe exhaustion
- Clay-colored stool
- Swelling in the legs
- Itchy skin
- Bleeding easily
- Nausea and vomiting
- Bruise easily
- Unexplained weight loss
- Appetite loss
- Abdominal pain
The cure rate of HCV is higher than 90%. Routine treatments for HCV consist of:
- Liver transplant (chronic hepatitis C)
- Antiviral drugs
How can I avoid getting hepatitis?
The best way to protect yourself from contracting hepatitis A or B is to get vaccinated for the viral infection. Our medical professionals recommend children undergo vaccination for hepatitis A somewhere between 12 – 23 months of age, but people can get the vaccine at any age after that. The hepatitis B vaccine is usually given to newborns; however, people can have the vaccine at any age. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C.
Other healthy recommendations to prevent contracting hepatitis are listed below:
- 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
- When traveling, check if the location you are going to has elevated levels of hepatitis infection
- Be sure to always wash your hands after using the restroom or coming into contact with any bodily fluids
- When having sex, use protection
- Do not share personal hygiene products, like toothbrushes, razors, etc.
Find treatment for hepatitis
While a hepatitis infection could potentially lead to concerning medical problems, including loss of liver function and liver cancer, it can be treated with help from a GI physician. Should you experience any concerning GI symptoms, such as those listed above, get in touch with San Antonio Gastroenterology Associates right away. As an experienced physician-led group of gastroenterology physicians, we deliver exceptional, patient-centered services. To further explore the treatment protocols available for all types of hepatitis in San Antonio, TX, speak with our friendly staff today.
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