Athens Gastrointerology Center
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Hepatitis A, B and C


        Location of the liver.
      

Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. Several different viruses cause viral hepatitis. They are named the hepatitis A, B, C, D and E viruses. A, B and C variants are the most common, and will be the focus of this page.

All of these viruses cause acute, or short-term, viral hepatitis. The hepatitis B, C and D viruses can also cause chronic hepatitis, in which the infection is prolonged, sometimes lifelong. Other viruses may also cause hepatitis, but they have yet to be discovered and they are obviously rare causes of the disease.

Overview of Hepatitis A, B and C

Hepatitis A:

Disease Spread: Primarily through food or water contaminated by feces from an infected person. Rarely, it spreads through contact with infected blood.

People at Risk: International travelers; people living in areas where hepatitis A outbreaks are common; people who live with or have sex with an infected person; and, during outbreaks, day care children and employees, sexually active gay men, and injection drug users.

Prevention: The hepatitis A vaccine; also, avoiding tap water when traveling internationally and practicing good hygiene and sanitation.

Treatment: Hepatitis A usually resolves on its own over several weeks.

 


 

Hepatitis B:

Disease Spread: Through contact with infected blood, through sex with an infected person, and from mother to child during childbirth.

People at Risk: Injection drug users, people who have sex with an infected person, men who have sex with men, children of immigrants from areas where hepatitis B is prevalent, people who live with an infected person, infants born to infected mothers, health care workers, and hemodialysis patients.

Prevention: The hepatitis B vaccine.

Treatment: Drug treatment with alpha interferon or lamivudine.

 


 

Hepatitis C:

Disease Spread: Primarily through contact with infected blood; less commonly, through sexual contact and childbirth.

People at Risk: Injection drug users, hemodialysis patients, health care workers, people who have sex with an infected person, people who have multiple sex partners, infants born to infected women, and people who received a transfusion of blood or blood products before July 1992 or clotting factors made before 1987.

Prevention: There is no vaccine for hepatitis C; the only way to prevent the disease is to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus. This means avoiding behaviors like sharing drug needles or sharing personal items like toothbrushes, razors, and nail clippers with an infected person.

Treatment: Drug treatment with alpha interferon or combination treatment with interferon and the drug ribavirin.

 

What are symptoms of hepatitis?

However, some people do not have symptoms until the disease is advanced.

How can it be diagnosed?

A doctor may require a blood test, or a biopsy of the liver, where a small sample of your liver is tested under a microscope.

How can I avoid hepatitis?

Hepatitis A:

Hepatitis B:

Hepatitis C:

 

If you have any questions or wish to schedule an appointment, please do not hesitate to call the office at (706) 548-0058. Remember that we usually require that you see a primary care physician (your family doctor or PCP) before we can schedule you. If you are having a medical emergency, get medical attention immediately at your nearest healthcare provider:

Athens Regional Medical Center: (706) 475-7000
St. Mary's Hospital: (706) 354-3000

 

This informational material is taken from the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources.

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