Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B Testing and Treatment
Hepatitis can be the result of viruses, infection, toxic substances or autoimmune diseases. There are several types of hepatitis. It affects the liver, causing it to become inflamed, and some types can be highly contagious. Most hepatitis cases are caused by viruses, particularly type B, which causes chronic disease and is the most common cause of liver cancer and cirrhosis of the liver.
Hepatitis A also affects the liver, but unlike hepatitis B, which is transmitted through blood-to-blood contact, hepatitis A is spread through fecal-oral transmission. Whereas hepatitis B cannot be spread by casual interactions with an infected person, hepatitis A can be transmitted through food prepared by an infected person. Poor sanitation and inadequate personal hygiene are breeding grounds for hepatitis A.
Testing for Hepatitis
A blood test can determine if you are immune to hepatitis or if you have the virus. There are a few different tests given to patients who may have the disease. Certain antibodies will be present in the blood if you have hepatitis.
In the case of hepatitis B, testing can reveal whether it is chronic or acute. A liver ultrasound test will show damage to the liver, and if there is cause, your doctor may do a liver biopsy. A small amount of the liver is excised and tested for damage.
Even though hepatitis A is seldom dangerous, it is possible. Usually, people recover fully after a few weeks of mild illness. Since there are no medications that eliminate the virus, it must run its course. However, your doctor can treat the symptoms. Rest and avoidance of alcohol are important in recovery. Hepatitis A is accompanied by nausea, which can make it difficult to keep food down. Plenty of fluids will help you keep hydrated and snacking during the day rather than eating large meals may help keep you nourished.
Hepatitis B can be treated within the first 12 hours of exposure by an antibody injection if you have not had a vaccination. This is a short-gap prevention, and patients are advised to get vaccinated for the virus at the same time if they have not received one before.
Acute hepatitis B infection can be short-lived, and treatment may not be necessary. Rest, proper nutrition and staying hydrated are usually enough to get through while your body fights the infection. If you are diagnosed with chronic hepatitis B infection, you will most likely need a lifetime treatment regime. Here are some of the options:
- Antiviral medications help fight the virus and slow it down from causing damage to the liver. These are oral medications, and your doctor will determine the best one for you.
- Interferon injections are often used for younger people who do not want long-term treatment. They are also used for women with the virus who are considering pregnancy within a few years. Your doctor will explain the pros and cons of these injections.
- A liver transplant may be advised if the virus has severely damaged your liver.
Currently, there are other drugs in development for treating hepatitis B.
Contact Dr. Michael today to schedule your consultation.