Hepatitis is a common disease that affects millions of people around the country. Hepatitis awareness has grown in recent decades due to the disease’s sometimes fatal nature. While gastroenterologists at some of the best surgical hospitals, including TOPS Surgical Specialty Hospital, can help some patients afflicted with this disease, understanding hepatitis is key to preventing it.
Let’s examine what hepatitis is and how you can protect yourself against it.
Hepatitis is a broad term that refers to a condition in which the liver becomes inflamed. This condition is caused by a virus and produces numerous symptoms, depending on its type. Some symptoms common across most hepatitis types include:
The medical community recognizes the following five types of hepatitis:
Hepatitis A is contracted by eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water. It is acute, meaning it lasts a short time and has a high recovery rate.
Hepatitis B is contracted through contact with blood and other bodily fluids carrying the virus. People often contract hepatitis B by sharing needles or engaging in unprotected sex. It is also possible for a mother with hepatitis B to pass the disease on to her child during childbirth.
Hepatitis B can be acute or chronic. People with chronic hepatitis B are at risk of developing serious liver disease.
Hepatitis C is also contracted via contact with blood carrying the virus. And it can be acute or chronic and lead to the development of liver disease, similar to hepatitis B.
As with types B and C, hepatitis D is contracted via contact with blood carrying the virus and can be acute or chronic. However, this form of hepatitis can be contracted only if the patient already has hepatitis B.
Hepatitis E is similar to Hepatitis A in that people can contract it by consuming contaminated food or drinking contaminated water. E can cause both acute and chronic infections and can resolve on their own. However, pregnant women and people with pre-existing liver conditions can experience severe complications with Hepatitis E.
There is no cure for hepatitis. Patients with short-term hepatitis usually recover as their immune system clears the virus.
Patients with chronic hepatitis must manage their symptoms using a combination of medications and lifestyle changes.
Some ways to protect yourself against hepatitis include:
Understanding hepatitis is vital for anyone who wants to protect themselves from this disease. If you’re concerned about a health condition like hepatitis and want to learn more, visit the TOPS Surgical Specialty Hospital website for information about hepatitis treatments.
TOPS Surgical Specialty Hospital is recognized as one of the best hospitals for surgery in the Houston area by Healthgrades. If you think you may have hepatitis or another condition affecting your gastrointestinal system, you can find the right gastroenterologist near you by visiting our website and clicking on the doctor’s bio to access their contact information.