7 Common Signs of Hepatitis

7 Common Signs of Hepatitis

Hepatitis is a serious disease that stops your liver from working the way it should. Because your liver plays an important role in many of your body’s functions, from breaking down the foods and beverages you consume to filtering out toxins to synthesizing proteins, the inflammation of the liver this disease causes can seriously impact your health.  

The good news is that board-certified gastroenterologist John M. Rivas, MD, and the team at Rivas Digestive Center in Hollywood, Florida, are here to help you reclaim your health if you’re struggling with one of the different forms of hepatitis.  

Keep reading to learn more about hepatitis and some of the common signs you may have this serious disease.     

What is hepatitis?

Broadly speaking, hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. But when people refer to hepatitis, they’re usually referring to viral hepatitis, which is the result of an infection. In the US, there are three common types of hepatitis, each caused by a different virus. Here’s a closer look: 

Hepatitis A

This type of hepatitis is caused by the hepatitis A virus, usually found in food or water contaminated with fecal matter from an infected person. This version of the disease is usually short-term and treatable.   

Anyone can contract hepatitis A, but your risk increases if you are a gay or bisexual man, have a history of liver disease, are homeless, use recreational drugs, or have a clotting-factor disorder. Fortunately, a vaccine exists for hepatitis A. 

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is caused by the hepatitis B virus and usually spreads through sexual contact, contact with other body fluids, or via contaminated blood. The virus can cause short-term and chronic forms of the disease, and you need to see your doctor for a blood test to learn which type you have. 

You can reduce your risk of contracting hepatitis B by getting vaccinated, not having unprotected sex, not sharing needles or other items that may be exposed to blood, and making sure your acupuncturist or tattoo artist only uses sterile needles. 

Hepatitis C

The hepatitis C virus that causes this form of the disease spreads in the same way as the hepatitis B virus. It is frequently seen in healthcare workers who are exposed to contaminated blood. Unfortunately, most (over 70%) of people with hepatitis C don’t develop symptoms until the disease creates liver complications. 

While a vaccine for hepatitis C doesn’t yet exist, you can reduce your risk of getting the disease by following the same protocol as for hepatitis B and by wearing protection if you’re a healthcare worker.

What are the seven signs of hepatitis?

The different forms of hepatitis have different signs and symptoms, making regular screenings important for health. While hepatitis B and C don’t always cause symptoms, hepatitis A can trigger symptoms similar to the flu as well as these seven common signs:

  1. Yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice)
  2. Abdominal pain or discomfort (usually on the upper right side where your liver is located)
  3. Dark urine
  4. Sudden vomiting or nausea
  5. Loss of appetite and/or unexplained weight loss
  6. Fatigue
  7. Clay- or light-colored stools

While these symptoms can resolve in a few weeks, hepatitis A can lead to serious illness that lasts for months. If you suspect you may have hepatitis, schedule an appointment with Dr. Rivas right away to get a diagnosis and start treatment if applicable.   

Is hepatitis treatable?

For most people with viral hepatitis, effective treatments do exist. The earlier you see Dr. Rivas for an evaluation, the sooner you can receive an accurate diagnosis and begin treatment. The type of treatment Dr. Rivas recommends depends on the type of hepatitis you have. 

Some forms of hepatitis respond well to rest, hydration, a healthy diet, and time. In other cases, you may need to take antiviral medications for months or years and maintain regular check-ups with Dr. Rivas. In severe cases or if you develop cirrhosis as the result of your hepatitis, you may require a liver transplant. 

Don’t wait to contact the Rivas Digestive Center in Hollywood, Florida, if you have any signs of hepatitis. You can call our office at 954-228-5882 or book an online consultation now. 

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