Chase Brexton can help you love your liver with testing, vaccinations, and treatment for hepatitis viruses.
The three most common types of hepatitis in the United States are hepatitis A, B, and C. Each has different symptoms and each is caused by a different virus. But, all three affect the liver and can cause long-term damage to it.
Getting tested for hepatitis is the best way to know if you have it. Call for an appointment today: 410-837-2050.
The Chase Brexton Infectious Disease Center of Excellence is experienced in prevention and treatment of hepatitis. Learn more below.
TRANSMISSION Hepatitis A is a highly contagious virus usually spread when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person.
Transmission can be through food, sexual activity, or other daily behaviors. It is important to note that certain sexual activities have led to infections - including the activity of analingus, known as rimming. Remember to use safe sex practices and perhaps enjoy a little couple's shower play before engaging in rimming.
SYMPTOMS Unlike hepatitis B and C, hepatitis A often causes symptoms in children older than 6 and adults that can appear quickly and can include:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Dark urine
- Clay-colored stools
- Joint pain
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
Most children younger than age 6 do not have symptoms when they have hepatitis A. The illness can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months.
Testing is the best way to know if you are infected. Make an appointment for the test by calling 410-837-2050. Let the Call Center know you need a hepatitis A test.
PREVENTION/VACCINATION The best way to prevent hepatitis A is through vaccination with the hepatitis A vaccine. Generally this vaccine is given in 2 doses 6 months apart. The vaccine is recommended for:
- All children at age 1 year
- Travelers to countries where hepatitis A is common
- Family and caregivers of adoptees from countries where hepatitis A is common
- Men who have sex with other men
- Users of recreational drugs, whether injected or not
- People with chronic or long-term liver disease, including hepatitis B or hepatitis C
- People with clotting-factor disorders
- People with direct contact with others who have hepatitis A
- Any person wishing to obtain immunity (protection)
Another means of protection is to practice good hand hygiene – including thoroughly washing hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food. This will help to reduce the spread of the virus.
Unlike hepatitis A, it is not spread casually - is not spread by coughing, sneezing, hugging, cooking and sharing food.
PREVENTION/VACCINATION There is a vaccine to prevent hepatitis B. The vaccine is usually given in three doses.
All children should get the hepatitis B vaccine.
- Babies should get a first dose of the hepatitis B vaccine at birth. They should have all three shots in the series by age 6 to 18 months.
- Infants born to mothers who have acute hepatitis B or have had the infection in the past should get a special hepatitis B vaccine within 12 hours of birth.
- Children younger than age 19 who have not had the vaccine should get "catch-up" doses.
Adults at high risk for hepatitis B should also be vaccinated, including:
- Health care workers
- Those who live with someone who has hepatitis B
- People with end-stage kidney disease, chronic liver disease, or HIV infection
- People with multiple sex partners and men who have sex with other men
- People who use recreational, injectable drugs
TREATMENT There are treatments for hepatitis B but no cures. Those infected may develop a chronic infection, though that depends on the age of infection and timing of treatment.
If you believe you've been exposed to hepatitis B or any of the below put you at a greater risk for getting hepititis b and have not been vaccinated, come in for a test and vaccination.
PREVENTION There is no vaccine to help prevent hep C. Certain people may have a higher risk of having hepatitis C. Check out the hep C checklist to find out if you're at a higher risk:
- Current injection drug users
- Past injection drug users, including those who injected only one time or many years ago
- Recipients of donated blood, blood products, and organs
- People who received a blood product for clotting problems made before 1987
- Hemodialysis patients or persons who spent many years on dialysis for kidney failure
- People who received body piercing or tattoos done with non-sterile instruments
- People with known exposures to the hepatitis C virus, such as
- Health care workers injured by needlesticks
- Recipients of blood or organs from a donor who tested positive for the hepatitis C virus
- HIV-infected persons
- Children born to mothers infected with the hepatitis C virus
TESTING Testing is easy and quick. Chase Brexton providers and our health care teams can test you for hepatitis C using a rapid test. You will get results in about 20 minutes. The rapid test will show if you have developed any hepatitis C 'antibodies'. Antibodies are substances the body produces in response to a virus, and show that at some point in your life, you were exposed to the virus. If the rapid test comes back postitive for hepatitis C antibodies, a Chase Brexton provider will have you get a confirmation test to see if the virus is still present in your bloodstream.
TREATMENT Chase Brexton's Infectious Disease Center of Excellence has developed a comprehensive and effective treatment program which successfully cured 98 percent of hepatitis C patients in 2016. Your treatment will include a team approach: your provider, a pharmacist, and a care coordinator will work closely with you. You will never feel alone in your care: your team will assist you with any questions, concerns, financial issues throughout. The medication program will take about 2 to 3 months. And your team will continue to follow up with you after treatment to make sure you are doing well.
By following Chase Brexton's hepatitis C treatment program, you have a high chance of being cured. Not all patients will be cured. If that is the case, your care team will find the best solutions and treatment options to help you lead a healthier life. Call 410-837-2050 to get into care today.