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Hepatitis B & C

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Hepatitis B & C are viral infections that lead to liver irritation and swelling. The word hepatitis actually means inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis B & C can both lead to chronic liver disease so prevention is a critical step to maintain health. Both hepatitis B & C can be spread through certain types of contact. The hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses cause both conditions respectively. Currently there is a vaccine for hepatitis B, but not for hepatitis C. Hepatitis B is typically a short-term condition while Hepatitis C is almost always a long-term health issue. To learn more about hepatitis B & C, please contact Central Florida Hepatology & Gastroenterology at 407.303.1812 or request an appointment on our website.

Symptoms of Hepatitis B & C

  • Symptoms vary between hepatitis B & C, but many of them are the same. Approximately half of individuals with acute hepatitis B experience symptoms. And most people who have contracted hepatitis C also do not experience symptoms – even if they have long been infected. If symptoms do develop they may include:
  • Fatigue
  • Stomach pain
  • Joint pain
  • Dark urine
  • Jaundice – a condition where the skin and the white portion of the eyes appear yellow
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite

Hepatitis B & C infections can lead to the liver damage known as cirrhosis. Individuals that develop cirrhosis may experience:

  • Increased redness in the palms due to expansion in the blood vessels
  • Red spider-like veins appearing on the upper torso and face
  • Increased swelling of the stomach feet and legs
  • Muscle loss
  • Brain and nervous system damage leading to symptoms of confusion, memory loss and lack of concentration

Causes of Hepatitis B & C

First off, it is impossible to contract hepatitis B & C through casual contact such as hugging, kissing, coughing or sharing a beverage with someone. Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is typically spread through semen, blood and vaginal fluids that are passed through sexual intercourse.

The hepatitis B virus can enter the body through a break in the skin of the anus, vagina, penis or mouth. Sexual contact is the most common way to contract hepatitis B. Unlike hepatitis B, hepatitis C is not spread through sexual contact. Rather, hepatitis C is commonly spread through sharing needles and other equipment used to inject illegal drugs. Before a screening test was developed in the early 1990s, it was possible for people to contract hepatitis C through a blood transfusion. Those instances are rare.

Both hepatitis B & C can be spread from a mother with the virus to her newborn baby, but these instances are also rare. It is not possible to spread hepatitis B & C through breastfeeding.

Hepatitis B can be spread through unsterilized body piercing and tattoo equipment and grooming items like toothbrushes and razors.

Treatment for Hepatitis B & C

Treatment for hepatitis B & C vary. In many cases, individuals with short-term Hepatitis B do nothing and the virus goes away on its own. For long-term cases of Hepatitis B, medications such as antiviral medicines are used to prevent damage to the liver. Lifestyle alterations including diet, exercise and rest are also important considerations when treating hepatitis B.

Treatment options for hepatitis C do not work for everyone because some individuals do not respond to treatment methods. Medications used to treat hepatitis C are typically used six-months out of the year to try and rid the virus from the body. These medications have serious side effects and can be costly.

To learn more about hepatitis B & C, please contact Central Florida Hepatology & Gastroenterology at 407.303.1812 or request an appointment on our website.