Hepatitis in Denver, CO
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What is hepatitis?
Across the globe, 290 million individuals are going about their lives without knowing they have a condition called viral hepatitis. Hepatitis, at its most fundamental description, is essentially swelling or inflammation of the liver. Most commonly heard of, are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. These three forms of hepatitis are designated based on the variation of the virus that leads to liver inflammation. Each variation of hepatitis can nearly be regarded as a unique disease because each type responds to separate treatment approaches. If you suspect that you or a member of your family could have, or they have already been diagnosed with, hepatitis we urge you to get in touch with Denver Digestive Health Specialists. Our board-certified gastroenterology experts commonly treat patients with hepatitis in Denver, CO.
Hepatitis A (HAV)
The type of hepatitis labeled as hepatitis A (HAV) is known to be highly contagious. Generally, it infects individuals who ingest food or beverages that have been in contact with fecal excrement or with others infected with the virus. Though extremely contagious, it is not as concerning as other forms. Hepatitis A is preventable by a vaccine and can be addressed by a healthcare practitioner.
If you have hepatitis A, you may notice symptoms, such as:
- Appetite loss
- Dark-colored urine (Jaundice)
- Abdominal pain
- Vomiting and nausea
- Unwanted weight loss
- Yellow skin, yellow eyes
The most prevalent treatment option for hepatitis A is to rest, consume fluids, and avoid alcohol. Most cases of hepatitis A will subside on their own. To avoid contracting hepatitis A, individuals can request a hepatitis A vaccination from your medical provider or our Denver, CO gastroenterology facility.
Hepatitis B (HBV)
Hepatitis B (HBV) is a more severe type of hepatitis. In the absence of medical care, it can possibly lead to liver failure and even cancer of the liver. If adults get hep B, their bodies should be able to fight it off over the course of a few months. After the virus has waned, immunity occurs. When you contract hepatitis B at birth, however, the condition will not likely subside. Hep B is commonly transmitted through blood, sexual fluids, saliva, using a needle after a person infected with the virus, or if a person's mother had HBV during pregnancy.
The common symptoms of hepatitis B include:
- Appetite loss
- Chronic fatigue
- Pain in the abdominal area
- Light-colored stool
- Aching joints
If you feel you have been exposed to HBV, we urge you to see your medical provider or contact Denver Digestive Health Specialists as soon as possible. The earlier you undergo treatment, the better. Your provider will likely advise hepatitis B vaccination and other antiviral drugs.
Hepatitis C (HCV)
Usually transmitted through bodily fluids (like blood), hepatitis C (HCV) is a virus that can damage a person's liver. This form can manifest in two forms: acute hepatitis C or chronic hepatitis C.
- Acute hepatitis C is less severe and frequently takes six months to subside, after which the majority of people’s natural immune response will defeat the viral infection.
- Chronic hepatitis C happens when a person's natural defenses cannot fight off the infection within the first six months and it causes infection in the body for a lengthier period. Unfortunately, this may cause prolonged medical conditions, like liver cancer and liver cirrhosis.
The most common signs and symptoms of hepatitis C involve:
- Jaundice (yellow eyes and skin, dark urine)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Itchy skin
- Pain in the abdominal area
- Extreme exhaustion
- Swelling in the legs
- Unexplained weight loss
- Bleed easily
- Joint pain
- Loss of appetite
- Bruise easily
- Clay-colored stool
- Slurred speech
The cure rate for hepatitis C is over 90%. The routine treatments for hepatitis C involve:
- Liver transplant (chronic HCV)
- Antiviral medications
How can I protect against hepatitis?
The most effective method of protection against developing hepatitis A or B is to be vaccinated for the infection. It is advised to have children undergo vaccination for hepatitis A somewhere between 12 months and 23 months of age, but patients can also receive the vaccine at any point after that. The hepatitis B vaccine is commonly administered to newborns; however, people can get the vaccine at any stage in life. There is no vaccination process for HCV.
Other healthy ways to prevent developing hepatitis are:
- Be sure any needles you use are properly sterilized, such as when getting tattoos or piercings or if using illicit drugs
- Use protection when having sex
- Avoid consuming unclean food and water, eating uncooked meat, and buying food from street vendors
- Before traveling, check if the place you are going has elevated incidences of hepatitis infection
- Avoid sharing personal hygiene products, like razors, toothbrushes, etc.
- Always wash your hands after using the bathroom or touching any bodily fluids
Treatment for patients with hepatitis
Even though a hepatitis virus could result in concerning problems, including cancer of the liver and liver failure, it can typically be treated with help from your gastrointestinal physician. Should you notice any troubling gastrointestinal symptoms, like those discussed above, please contact Denver Digestive Health Specialists right away. As a physician-led network of gastroenterologists, we strive to deliver quality, patient-focused services. To receive additional information on the treatment protocols available for all variations of hepatitis in Denver, CO, speak with our friendly staff today.
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Excellent first visit. Dr. Siegel was very friendly and informative.