Hepatitis in Hattiesburg, MS

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Across the world, nearly 300 million people are going about their lives not knowing that they have a condition called viral hepatitis. Hepatitis, according to its most fundamental definition, involves liver inflammation. The most common types are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. These three types of hepatitis are named in reference to the form of virus that is the reason for liver inflammation. Each single type of viral hepatitis can practically be considered a unique disease, as each type responds to separate treatments. If you or a family member suspects or has been diagnosed with a type of hepatitis, call Hattiesburg GI Associates, PLLC. Our board-certified gastroenterology specialists commonly treat individuals with hepatitis in Hattiesburg, MS.

The virus referred to as hepatitis A (HAV) is known to be extremely contagious and often infects individuals who eat or drink something that has been exposed to feces or another person that has the disease. Though highly transmittable, it is not very dangerous compared to the other forms. HAV can be avoided with vaccination and can be treated by a medical practitioner.

People with hepatitis A could have the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Decreased appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • A yellowing of the eyes and/or skin
  • Pain in the abdominal area
  • Exhaustion
  • Dark urine (indicating jaundice)
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Diarrhea

The most prevalent treatment option for hepatitis A is to get plenty of rest, drink fluids, and avoid alcoholic drinks. In most instances, hepatitis A will clear up on its own. To prevent hepatitis A, patients can get a vaccine from their medical provider or our Hattiesburg, MS gastroenterology office.

The form known as hepatitis B (HBV) is a more serious type of the hepatitis virus. In the absence of medical care, it can potentially cause cancer of the liver and liver failure. When adults get hepatitis B, their bodies can typically fight it off over a few months. Once the virus has waned, the patient will become immune to it. If an individual contracts hepatitis B during birth, however, the disease is unlikely to subside. Hepatitis B is typically passed via saliva, blood, sexual fluids, sharing a needle with a person infected with the virus, or from mother to child.

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

  • Jaundice
  • Aching joints
  • Pain in the abdominal area
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Appetite loss
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Light-colored stool

If you have been infected by the hep B virus, it is vital for your health to see your healthcare practitioner or contact Hattiesburg GI Associates, PLLC as soon as possible. The quicker you get care, the better for your health. Your doctor will most likely advise a vaccine for HBV and additional antiviral drugs.

Usually spread via bodily fluids (such as blood), hepatitis C (HCV) is an additional virus that can injure your liver. It can manifest itself in two separate variations, acute hepatitis C or chronic hepatitis C.

  • Acute hepatitis C is less concerning and often takes six months to subside, after which the majority of people's natural immune response will defeat the viral infection.
  • Chronic hepatitis C arises when your immune system cannot fight off the infection in the first six months and it infects the body for a prolonged amount of time. Unfortunately, this may result in longer-term medical problems, such as liver cirrhosis or liver cancer.

The most common signs and symptoms of hepatitis C are as follows:

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

HCV has a cure rate of greater than 90%. Routine treatment methods for hepatitis C include:

  • Antiviral drugs
  • Liver transplant (chronic HCV)
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The greatest prevention against developing hepatitis A or B is to undergo vaccination for the virus. It is advised to have children vaccinated for hepatitis A somewhere between the ages of 12 – 23 months, but people can also get the vaccine at any time after that. Vaccination for hepatitis B is typically provided to newborns, but it is also available for patients at any stage of their lives. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C.

Additional healthy methods to prevent the development of hepatitis include:

  • Using protection when having sex
  • Being sure to always wash your hands after using the restroom or coming into contact with any bodily fluids
  • Avoiding eating uncooked meat, consuming unclean water and food, and eating food from street vendors
  • Do not share personal hygiene products, like razors, toothbrushes, etc.
  • Making certain any needles you use have been properly sterilized, such as when getting piercings or if using illicit drugs
  • Before traveling, determining whether the location you are going has elevated rates of hepatitis infection

Though a hepatitis infection can lead to significant conditions, such as hepatic cancer and loss of liver function, treatment can be obtained with help from your gastrointestinal physician. If you are experiencing any unusual gastrointestinal signs or symptoms such as those discussed above, call Hattiesburg GI Associates, PLLC as soon as possible. As a skilled physician-led group of gastroenterology specialists, we endeavor to deliver quality, patient-centered care. To find out more about the treatments available for all types of hepatitis in Hattiesburg, MS, talk to our friendly support staff today.

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