While the rates of hepatitis B are on a downward trend since children started receiving hepatitis B vaccinations, the rapidly increasing cases of hepatitis C are an epidemic. The board-certified gastroenterologists and skilled medical team at Palmadessa and Brodsky Gastroenterology Associates in Douglaston, New York, have special expertise and training in treating all types of hepatitis, including fellowship training in liver diseases at Mount Sinai Medical Center and participation in clinical trials for liver disease treatments. If you want exceptional care for hepatitis, call Palmadessa and Brodsky Gastroenterology Associates, or schedule an appointment online today.
Hepatitis generally refers to liver inflammation that can come from many possible sources. Liver inflammation may be caused by autoimmune diseases, medications, toxins, and alcohol. However, the most common cause of hepatitis is a viral infection. The five types of viral hepatitis are identified as hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E.
Hepatitis B causes an acute infection that doesn’t last longer than six months because your body fights off the virus. This type of hepatitis can become chronic if your body can’t eliminate the virus.
The hepatitis B virus (HBV) is passed through contact with infected blood, semen, and other body fluids. HBV is commonly spread through sexual contact, sharing needles, and accidental needle sticks. The virus can also spread from an infected mother to her baby during childbirth.
The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is only spread through contaminated blood. Many people with HCV aren’t aware they’re infected because it takes decades for symptoms to appear. By the time you notice problems, the virus already damaged your liver.
If you were born between 1945-1965, you’re five times more likely to be infected with HCV. Everyone from that age group should get a one-time blood test to screen for the disease.
As liver damage gets progressively worse, you’ll develop symptoms such as:
You may also develop spider angiomas, which resemble spider veins but have a central, red area with small veins radiating out from the center. Spider angiomas are a sign of cirrhosis, an advanced stage of scarring caused by inflammation.
You can get vaccines to prevent hepatitis A and B, but there aren't any vaccines for the other types of hepatitis. If you’re already infected with hepatitis B or C, your doctor at Palmadessa and Brodsky Gastroenterology Associates can prescribe an antiviral medication.
Your doctor may also recommend ongoing monitoring of your liver function. Depending on the severity of liver damage, you may need other treatments, such as dietary changes, weight loss, medications, and stopping alcohol.
If you suspect you were exposed to hepatitis or you’d like to have a thorough evaluation, call Palmadessa and Brodsky Gastroenterology Associates or schedule an appointment online today.