Today, July 28th, is World Hepatitis Day. Although you’ve probably heard of hepatitis, what is it exactly? Hepatitis is viral infection of the liver which can be a short term acute illness (hepatitis A and E) or a long-term chronic disease (hepatitis B, C and D). This article will only provide some information about the most common forms of hepatitis: A, B and C.
This strain of hepatitis doesn’t usually require treatment and resolves itself on its own. This is typically contracted by consuming food or water contaminated by feces of someone contaminated with hepatitis A. Childhood vaccinations for hepatitis A are the best way to avoid this disease.
The CDC estimates that about 1.2 million people living in the US and over 350 million people worldwide live suffer from this disease. Hep B can exist in either acute (active) stage or chronic stages. For those with an active case of hepatitis B the treatment consists of the use of antiviral medications, for those suffering from chronic hepatitis B requires careful monitoring of the liver through blood tests and ultrasounds to make sure that it hasn’t developed into an acute case. Hep B can be prevented through childhood vaccinations.
Because hepatitis B can be contracted through infectious body fluids (blood, semen and vaginal secretions) healthcare workers are also vaccinated against it.
Hep C is one of the most common bloodborne viral infections in the US, with estimates between 2.7 and 3.9 million residents suffering from the chronic form of this disease. This is also transmitted through infected body fluids, but typically as the result of shared needles for drug use or sexual contact.
Typically, the chronic forms of hepatitis do not show any symptoms until they damage the liver function, but for active cases of hepatitis the victim my suffer from flu-like symptoms of fatigue, abdominal pain and weight loss. A physician will uncover it through pressing down on the abdomen and discovering pain or tenderness, or that the liver is enlarged. If you appear jaundiced—having yellowish skin or eyes–is another sure sign. But confirmation of the diagnosis typically involves liver function blood tests and an ultrasound examination of the liver and nearby abdominal organs. If the signs of hepatitis are there as a result of these tests a liver biopsy might be performed to see if the infection has damaged the liver.
The risks of sufferers of chronic hepatitis B and C includes increased chances of contracting liver cancer, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis of the liver, any of these can lead to liver failure which can lead to death. Hepatitis is a serious disease that often goes undetected in the population, but a cure does exist for hepatitis C sufferers and medical professionals are actively working on one for hepatitis B.
The goal of World Hepatitis Day is to “Find the Missing Millions” of those people living with viral hepatitis unaware and improve their quality of life through treatment and reduce transmission rates of the disease around the world. Learn more about World Hepatitis Day at http://www.worldhepatitisday.org/.
At Primary Care Physicians of Florida, our comprehensive internal medicine specialists excel at chronic disease care. With decades of combined training and practical experience our medical professionals are experts at diagnosing and treating the illnesses that ail you. We have doctors who accept Humana and CarePlus on staff, as well as others who are on the list of Medicaid healthcare providers.
Some of the other insurances we carry at Primary Care Physicians of Florida are (but not limited to): Preferred Care Partners, Blue Cross Blue Shield, UnitedHealthcare, Coventry, and Cigna. Please contact us for more information about the insurance plans we accept.
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