Hepatitis in St. Louis, MO

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Across the globe, nearly 300 million people are going about their lives not knowing that they have a condition known as viral hepatitis. Hepatitis, at its most simple description, involves inflammation or swelling of the liver. The most common forms include hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. The three types of hepatitis mentioned here are labeled based on the strain of the virus that is causing the inflammation of the liver. Each individual type of viral hepatitis can nearly be deemed a unique disease, as each form of infection responds to different treatments. If you or a member of your family has been diagnosed with, or may already have, a type of hepatitis, please contact a Specialists in Gastroenterology in your community. Our skilled gastroenterology providers treat individuals with hepatitis in St. Louis, MO.

The type of hepatitis labeled as hepatitis A (HAV) is known to be very transmittable and generally infects people who ingest beverages or foods that have been in contact with fecal excrements or another person who is positive for the virus. Though very transmittable, it is not as harmful compared to the other variations. HAV is preventable by vaccination and is treatable by a medical professional.

Individuals with hepatitis A could experience signs or symptoms that include:

  • Pain in the abdominal area
  • Diarrhea
  • Exhaustion
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Dark urine (jaundice)
  • Appetite loss
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Yellow skin, yellow eyes

The routine treatment method for HAV is to rest, stay well-hydrated, and avoid alcoholic drinks. The majority of cases of HAV will resolve on their own.

The virus hepatitis B (HBV) is a more serious form of viral hepatitis. Without proper medical care, it can potentially result in liver cancer and liver failure. If adults get hepatitis B, their bodies should be able to fight it off within a few months and after the virus has diminished, immunity results. When people get HBV at birth, however, the disease is unlikely to subside. HBV is usually communicable through blood, saliva, sexual fluids, using a needle after a person is infected with the virus, or passed from an infected pregnant woman to her child during birth.

The common signs and symptoms of hepatitis B include:

  • Persistent fatigue
  • Jaundice
  • Light-colored stool
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Pain in the abdominal area
  • Aching joints
  • Vomiting

If you may have been exposed to the hep B virus, we encourage you to see your medical provider or contact your nearest Specialists in Gastroenterology location as soon as possible. The earlier you undergo care, the better. Your provider will most likely administer a vaccine for hepatitis B and additional antiviral drugs.

Typically transmitted via bodily fluids (including blood), hepatitis C (HCV) is another viral infection that can cause damage to a person's liver. This variation of hepatitis can manifest itself in two separate variations, acute hepatitis C or chronic hepatitis C.

  • Acute hepatitis C is the less concerning form and generally lasts over a six-month timeframe, after which most people’s immune systems will overpower the viral infection.
  • Chronic hepatitis C occurs when your natural defenses cannot stave off the viral infection within the first six months and it causes infection in the body for an extended period of time. This type of hepatitis C can result in more long-term medical problems, like cancer of the liver and liver cirrhosis.

Some of the more common hepatitis C signs and symptoms involve:

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

The cure rate of HCV is over 90%. Routine treatment protocols for HCV are as follows:

  • Antiviral drugs
  • Liver transplant (chronic hepatitis C)
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The best way to avoid getting hepatitis A or B is to receive a vaccine for the condition. It is advised to have young children vaccinated for hepatitis A somewhere between the ages of 12 months to 23 months, but you can get the vaccine at any time after that. The hepatitis B vaccine is generally provided to newborns, but individuals can get the vaccine at any point in life. There is no current vaccine for hepatitis C.

Other healthy methods to prevent contracting hepatitis include:

  • When having sex, use protection
  • Before traveling, determine whether the location you are visiting has elevated incidences of hepatitis infection
  • Always wash your hands with soap and water after coming into contact with any bodily fluids or using the bathroom
  • Do not share personal hygiene products, like toothbrushes, razors, etc.
  • Ensure any needles you use have been properly sterilized, such as when getting tattoos or piercings or if injecting illicit drugs
  • Avoid consuming unclean food and water, eating uncooked meat, and eating food from street vendors

Although a hepatitis viral infection could cause concerning health conditions, such as loss of liver function and liver cancer, it can typically be treated with help from your gastroenterologist. If you are noticing any concerning gastrointestinal signs or symptoms, such as the ones listed above, please reach out to a Specialists in Gastroenterology in your community. As a physician-led network of gastroenterology providers, we aim to provide safe, patient-centric services. To receive additional information on the treatment options available for all forms of hepatitis in St. Louis, MO, speak with our caring team today.


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