Colorado’s Trusted Hepatitis A, B, and C Experts
Discover Hepatitis A, B, and C Relief with Our Help
Rocky Mountain Gastroenterology in Colorado is dedicated to providing comprehensive and specialized treatments for patients who have viral hepatitis, including hepatitis A, B, and C. Our team comprises highly trained physicians with years of experience in creating personalized care that is designed to improve your quality of life. We can accommodate weekly visits and administer medications; depending on the type of viral hepatitis, you can be cured. If you’re interested in a consultation, don’t hesitate to contact one of our offices throughout Colorado. We look forward to helping you find relief.
What is Hepatitis A, B, and C?
Viral hepatitis or hepatitis A, B, and C is a condition that causes liver inflammation. When the virus enters your body, its travels to your liver. Once in your liver, it’ll enter your liver cells and begin copying itself. The damage from the virus comes when it enters your liver cells. Your immune cells start to travel to fight the infection, which also contributes to inflammation. Liver damage and inflammation can affect your liver’s ability to function as intended. If your liver stops working as intended, it can cause issues, and the liver handles the following body functions:
- Breaks down vital nutrients and helps filter toxins from your body.
- Produces bile, which helps your digestive system.
- Creates proteins that help your blood clot.
- Stores additional blood sugar, which your body uses for energy.
- Synthesize important immune system factors that help fight infections.
Is There a Difference Between Hepatitis A, B, and C?
Having hepatitis can be dangerous and uncomfortable. Different strains of hepatitis exist, including hepatitis A, B, and C. The most common type is hepatitis A which is usually a short-term infection, while hepatitis B and C can cause long-term or chronic infections. While all three are part of the same viral strain, there is a difference between hepatitis A, B, and C. Each type has its distinct characteristics, and our team will recommend different treatments based on the type of virus affecting you. The differences include the following:
- Hepatitis A – This virus causes acute inflammation in your liver that almost always gets better, but it becomes more of a concern the older you get. It’s easily spread from person to person, either through food or water, and can infect multiple people at once.
- Hepatitis B – Hepatitis B can either become an acute or chronic virus that can spread through your blood or bodily fluids. Hepatitis B is more common throughout Asia and Africa. Similar to hepatitis A, hepatitis B has a vaccine to prevent an infection.
- Hepatitis C – Hepatitis C is almost always chronic and is spread mainly through direct blood-to-blood contact. Although hepatitis A and B can be prevented through vaccination, hepatitis C cannot. There are oral medications that can cure hepatitis C in 95% of cases, regardless of prior treatment history.
How Common is Hepatitis A, B, and C?
Each type of hepatitis is different regarding how common the infection is. Hepatitis a is the least common type. In 2017, a sizeable person-to-person outbreak began around specific populations, including those who use drugs and those experiencing homelessness. In contrast, hepatitis C infections have nearly quadrupled in the last decade. It’s highly recommended that all adults in the United States should be screened for hepatitis C, as it’s estimated that there are 60 million infections worldwide. Lastly, hepatitis B is the most common liver infection worldwide. Approximately 2 billion people have been infected, and of those 250 million people who live with chronic hepatitis B, most are unaware. Hepatitis B is less common in the United States, thanks to the vaccine, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that around 860,000 individuals living with chronic hepatitis B in the United States.
Different Causes for Hepatitis A, B, and C
Similar to how common the infection is, each form of hepatitis is caused or spread differently. Hepatitis A can be spread through food or drinking water, carrying the virus through fecal matter from an infected individual. It’s also possible to get hepatitis A from sexual contact. Hepatitis B is also spread through sexual contact, sharing “dirty” needles, coming into direct contact with infected blood, or connecting with an infected person’s bodily fluids. Unfortunately, an infected pregnant person has a higher chance of passing hepatitis B on to their child during or after birth. Lastly, hepatitis C can be spread through sharing “dirty” needles, coming in direct contact with infected blood, or getting needle stick injuries. It’s possible to spread it through sexual contact, but less common than hepatitis B and C.
What are the Symptoms of Hepatitis A, B, and C?
Most individuals infected with either hepatitis A, B, or C do not have symptoms and are unaware they are infected. If symptoms do occur during acute infection, they usually appear anytime between two weeks to six months following exposure. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most hepatitis A, B, and C symptoms. If you experience any of these symptoms, we recommend coming in for a screening. Symptoms of hepatitis A, B, and C include the following:
- Dark Urine
- Stomach or Abdominal Pain
- Pale or Clay-Colored Stool
- Low-Grade Fever
- Loss of Appetite
- Feeling Nauseas or Sick to Your Stomach
- Aching Joints
How Our Team Diagnosis Hepatitis A, B, and C
At Rocky Mountain Gastroenterology, our team of liver specialists uses a variety of tests to diagnose liver inflammations like hepatitis A, B, and C. First, we’ll ask about your symptoms and health history and perform a physical examination. Our next step would be to order a blood test. Blood tests are used to look for signs of a viral infection and to help evaluate your liver function. The results of a blood test can confirm the type of viral hepatitis and severity of the infection and determine if the infection is active or dormant. If your blood test confirms hepatitis A, B, and C, we may order additional tests to assess the extent of possible liver damage, including:
- Ultrasound – An ultrasound produces an image that allows us to see whether the liver is inflamed. It may also reveal if your liver is scarred, suggesting cirrhosis. This is a non-invasive and painless test.
- MRI and CT Scans – If your ultrasound indicates any additional concerns, we may recommend undergoing an MRI or CT scan to check for more severe liver diseases or liver cancer. These tests create a two- or three-dimensional image that provides a more in-depth look at your liver.
- Liver Biopsy – Rarely, imaging tests are not detailed enough to show the extent of liver damage, and if that’s the case, we’ll recommend a liver biopsy. Liver biopsies are used to determine the size of scarring or even confirm liver cancer.
Explore Hepatitis A, B, and C Treatments
The treatments are available depending on the white type of hepatitis you have. Hepatitis A has no cure beyond carefully watching your liver function. If the infection is found early enough, you may be able to get a dose of the hepatitis A vaccine or an injection of hepatitis A immune globulin to stop the infection. Hepatitis B also has a vaccine available to prevent you from getting the virus, but if contacted, several different medications are available to treat hepatitis B. Unlike hepatitis A and B, hepatitis C does not have a vaccine available to prevent the virus, but there are medications to help control your hepatitis C symptoms.
How to Prevent Hepatitis A, B, and C
Prevention is critical to avoiding these liver-damaging viruses. As stated, there are vaccinations for hepatitis A and B. Contact your primary care physician for vaccination recommendations. Hepatitis C doesn’t have a vaccine, but there are specific steps you can take to protect yourself from hepatitis A, B, and C. Here are some of the ways you can reduce your chances of getting the virus:
- Use a Condom During Sex
- Don’t Share Needles
- Practice Good Personal Hygiene
- Avoid Using an Infected Person’s Items
- Take Precautions When Getting Any Tattoos or Body Piercings
Schedule Your Hepatitis A, B, and C Consultation
Most patients infected with hepatitis A will have it go away on its own. However, all forms of the hepatitis virus can result in liver damage or scarring. Whether acute or chronic, hepatitis A, B, and C are all treatable, and early diagnosis is vital to prevent further damage. The Rocky Mountain Gastroenterology team is dedicated to providing patients access to hepatitis screenings and tests to catch the infection early enough. If an infection is found, our team will create a personalized treatment plan for your needs. Contact us to schedule your hepatitis A, B, and C tests today.Go back