When the Diagnosis is Hepatitis

Thousands of Americans become infected with viral hepatitis each year. Fortunately, the infection can be successfully treated and managed when diagnosed early.

Hepatitis is an inflammation, or swelling, of the liver most often brought on by toxins or certain drugs, heavy alcohol use or a bacterial or viral infection. The most common types of viral hepatitis in the United States are hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

About Viral Hepatitis

You can get hepatitis A by eating food or drinking water contaminated with feces (stool) from a person infected with the virus or by sexual contact. You can get hepatitis B if you come into contact with an infected person’s blood, semen or needles from drug use. The virus can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby during childbirth. Hepatitis C is also spread through contact with the blood of an infected person. This usually happens when people use contaminated needles to inject drugs.

A hepatitis infection is diagnosed with a blood test that looks for parts of the virus or antibodies your body makes in response to the virus. If left undiagnosed and treated with antiviral medication, hepatitis B and hepatitis C can become chronic conditions, possibly leading to cirrhosis, liver failure or liver cancer.

When Hepatitis Becomes Chronic

Chronic hepatitis B is the most common liver infection in the world, affecting some 400 million people globally, and it can often be a silent disease ― appearing without warning. It is recommended that individuals who test negative for hepatitis B get vaccinated. The vaccine can provide lifelong protection from the virus. Additionally, chronic hepatitis C is a leading cause of cirrhosis or scarring of the liver tissue. About one in four people with chronic hepatitis C develop cirrhosis, which can be life-threatening.

If you test positive for chronic hepatitis B or hepatitis C, it is important to work closely with your physician to manage the disease, including regular screenings to monitor the health of your liver. There are also several treatments available that may help reduce the risk of further damage to your liver. We can help you determine whether/what treatment might be right for you.

About Autoimmune Hepatitis

While viruses cause most types of hepatitis, autoimmune hepatitis is one exception. This type of liver disease occurs when your body’s own immune system attacks the liver and causes it to become inflamed. The disease is chronic, meaning it lasts many years. If untreated, it can lead to cirrhosis and liver failure.

Autoimmune hepatitis often occurs suddenly and may initially feel like a mild case of the flu. To confirm a diagnosis of autoimmune hepatitis, we will perform blood tests and a liver biopsy, in which a sample of liver tissue is removed with a needle for examination in a laboratory. Our goal with treatment is to stop the body’s attack on itself by suppressing the immune system. This is accomplished with the administration of steroids. In most cases, autoimmune hepatitis can be controlled but not cured and medication is needed for years or sometimes for life.

Our compassionate staff is available to provide support and information for hepatitis with you in mind. Dr. Arora will provide comprehensive treatment and help manage your disease every step of the way.