Hepatitis in Arizona

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Worldwide, 290 million people are going about their lives unaware that they have a condition known as viral hepatitis. Hepatitis, when considered at its most fundamental definition, is essentially liver inflammation. Most common are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. These three variations of hepatitis are defined in reference to the type of virus that causes the inflammation of the liver. Each single form of viral hepatitis can virtually be regarded as a unique disease because each form responds to distinct therapies. If you or a loved one may have, or has been diagnosed with a variation of hepatitis, please contact Arizona Digestive Health today. Our board-certified gastroenterology physicians regularly treat patients with hepatitis in Phoenix, AZ.

The type of hepatitis labeled as hepatitis A (HAV) is known to be quite transmittable and typically infects individuals who consume beverages or foods that have been around fecal waste or other individuals who have the virus. Although highly infectious, it is not exceptionally dangerous compared to the other types. Hepatitis A is preventable by vaccination and is treatable by a healthcare practitioner.

People with hepatitis A may notice the following signs and symptoms:

  • Diarrhea
  • Unwanted weight loss
  • Dark-colored urine (Jaundice)
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain in the abdominal area
  • Exhaustion
  • Yellow skin, yellow eyes
  • Decreased appetite

The most common treatment method for hepatitis A is to get plenty of rest, consume fluids, and avoid alcohol. In most instances, hepatitis A will resolve on its own. To avoid HAV, you can request a hepatitis A vaccine from your physician or our Phoenix, AZ gastroenterology facility.

The virus known as hepatitis B (HBV) is a more concerning form of hepatitis infection. Left untreated, it can potentially result in cancer of the liver and liver failure. Should an adult get hepatitis B, their bodies should be able to fight it off within a few months. Once the virus has diminished, you become immune. Should individuals contract HBV during birth, however, the condition is unlikely to go away. Hepatitis B is most commonly passed via blood, sexual fluids, saliva, using a contaminated needle, or passed from an infected pregnant woman to her child during birth.

Some of the common symptoms and signs of hepatitis B include:

  • Aching joints
  • Fever
  • Jaundice
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Light-colored stool
  • Appetite loss

If you think you may have been infected by hepatitis B, we urge you to see a medical provider or contact Arizona Digestive Health as soon as possible. The faster you receive care, the better. Your medical practitioner will likely administer a vaccine for HBV and additional antiviral medication.

Commonly passed on via bodily fluids (including blood), hepatitis C (HCV) is another viral infection that can damage your liver. Hep C can manifest itself in two separate forms, acute hepatitis C or chronic hepatitis C.

  • Acute hepatitis C is less severe and typically lasts over a six-month timeframe, after which the majority of people’s immune systems will overpower the viral infection.
  • Chronic hepatitis C happens when a patient's immune system are unable to fend off the virus in the first six months and the virus causes infection in the body for an extended timeframe. This could lead to longer term health problems, like cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.

Some of the more common hepatitis C signs and symptoms are as follows:

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

Hepatitis C has a cure rate of greater than 90%. Common treatment options for HCV involve:

  • Antiviral drugs
  • Liver transplant (chronic hepatitis C])
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The greatest method of prevention against contracting hepatitis A or B is to get vaccinated for the condition. It is advised to have young children vaccinated for hepatitis A when they are between the ages of 12 months to 23 months, but patients can also have the vaccine at any point after that. The hepatitis B vaccine is commonly provided to newborns, but individuals can receive the vaccine at any stage in life. There is no current vaccination process for HCV.

Other healthy ways to prevent getting hepatitis are:

  • When having sex, use protection
  • Ensure any needles you use are properly sterilized, such as when getting piercings or if injecting illicit drugs
  • If traveling, determine whether the location you are visiting has elevated incidences of hepatitis infection
  • Make sure to always wash your hands with soap and water after using the bathroom or touching any bodily fluids
  • Avoid sharing personal hygiene items, like razors, toothbrushes, etc.
  • Avoid consuming uncooked meat and unclean food or water, and buying food from street vendors

Though hepatitis could cause serious medical conditions, including loss of liver function and cancer of the liver, it is treatable with help from your GI specialist. Should you have any worrisome GI signs or symptoms, like the ones mentioned above, please get in touch with Arizona Digestive Health as soon as possible. As an experienced physician-led team of gastroenterologists, we deliver exceptional, patient-centric care. To learn more about the treatment options available for all forms of hepatitis in Phoenix, AZ, talk to our caring staff today.

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Dr. Saperstein takes the time to sit down and talk to his patients. He explains everything in terms someone not in the medical field can understand.

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