Rivas Digestive Center
John M Rivas, M.D.
Gastroenterology and Endoscopy & Transplant Hepatology located in Hollywood, FL
Hepatitis covers a range of inflammatory diseases that interfere with your liver's ability to function properly. Some forms of hepatitis can have a devastating impact on your health, but experienced gastroenterologist John Rivas, MD, of Rivas Digestive Center in Hollywood, Florida, provides expert care and treatment for all forms of hepatitis. Call Rivas Digestive Center today to book a consultation or schedule an appointment online.
What is hepatitis?
Hepatitis is liver inflammation, and it can be a serious, long-term condition, even life-threatening in some situations.
Your liver is a large organ that sits behind your rib cage, above your intestines. It's part of your digestive system, performing vital functions related to your metabolism. Among its many jobs, your liver breaks down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates from your food to give you energy.
It also stores glycogen (sugar for fuel), vitamins A, D, E, and K, and minerals. Your liver activates the essential enzymes you need for a variety of body functions and filters toxins out of your body. Without a healthy liver, you'd have a very limited life expectancy, so preventing and treating hepatitis is critical.
What are the types of hepatitis?
Different viruses cause the infectious forms of hepatitis:
You're most likely to catch hepatitis A from consuming food or water contaminated by the hepatitis A virus. It causes acute illness.
You can catch hepatitis B if you come into contact with infected blood, vaginal fluids, or semen. Having unprotected sex and injecting drugs with needles shared by an infected person are the most common ways to contract this form of hepatitis.
Hepatitis C also spreads through contact with infected bodily fluids. In the United States, hepatitis C is one of the most widespread infections that you get through contact with blood, semen, or vaginal fluids.
Some causes of hepatitis aren't infectious, such as excessive alcohol consumption. Alcohol poisons your liver, causing inflammation and then a thickening and scarring known as cirrhosis. You could also get autoimmune hepatitis, a disorder that develops when your immune system starts attacking your body's healthy tissues.
What symptoms does hepatitis cause?
Acute hepatitis causes flu-like symptoms, as well as:
- Dark urine
- Pale stool
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Jaundice (yellow skin and eyes)
Chronic forms of hepatitis like hepatitis B and hepatitis C can infect you without causing symptoms until there's already substantial liver damage.
How is hepatitis treated?
The treatment you need for hepatitis depends on what form of the disease you have.
If you have hepatitis A or acute hepatitis B, you wouldn't usually need treatment because they're short-lived conditions. Resting, staying hydrated, and getting adequate nutrition should be all you need.
Chronic hepatitis B and both chronic and acute forms of hepatitis C require treatment using antiviral medications. Dr. Rivas needs to see you for regular assessments and testing to make sure the treatment is working. You might need to take medication for months and sometimes years.
There are vaccines available for hepatitis B and hepatitis A, but unfortunately, there's no vaccine against hepatitis C. Most children now receive hepatitis A and B vaccinations before they're 18 months old. If you haven't had a vaccination against hepatitis, you can still benefit from immunization as an adult.
If you develop severe liver disease and scarring, you might need a liver transplant.
If you have concerns about hepatitis, call Rivas Digestive Center today or book an appointment online.