Advanced Diagnostics and Treatment for Viral Hepatitis (A, B, C, D, and E)
Viral hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by different viruses, including hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. Some people with viral hepatitis can have mild symptoms or no symptoms while others develop liver cell damage which can, in some cases, lead to liver failure.
Call to Schedule an Appointment TodayTo schedule an in-person or virtual consultation with a UH liver specialist, call 216-844-8500, Option #1 or schedule online.
Understanding Common Types of Viral Hepatitis
The three most common types of viral hepatitis we see in today’s population include:
- Hepatitis A
An inflammation of the liver caused by a virus, Hepatitis A is spread through food, water and feces, especially in highly unsanitary conditions. It can also be spread through poor hygiene, and occasionally, we see outbreaks in the community. Vaccination is the best way to prevent Hepatitis A and is available at University Hospitals. You can discuss this with your liver specialist.
- Hepatitis B
A viral infection of the liver, Hepatitis B is caused by transmission through blood and body fluids. Like other chronic liver diseases, Hepatitis B can cause inflammation of the liver that can lead to scarring (fibrosis) or even cirrhosis. Patients with hepatitis B are also at risk for developing liver failure and liver cancer. When this happens, our team of experts with experience in hepatitis B can help with assessment, treatment, and even referral for liver transplantation when necessary.
Chronic hepatitis B infection may or may not require treatment, but patients should be monitored by a liver specialist. If treatment is necessary, we have a multidisciplinary team that will include a clinical pharmacist.
A vaccine has been available for hepatitis B prevention since the 1980s and has become a standard vaccine for all children and young adults. We recommend the hepatitis B vaccination in adults with certain medical conditions such as adults with chronic liver diseases and solid organ transplantation. Hepatitis B vaccination is available at University Hospitals and you can discuss this with your liver specialist.
- Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a viral infection that affects the liver. It is typically transmitted (passed) through the blood. Hepatitis C can cause an acute infection which often doesn’t result in symptoms, but can sometimes can cause fever, nausea, vomiting, jaundice and elevated liver enzymes. For the majority of individuals with acute hepatitis C infection, they are unaware of their infection and diagnosis. Most people will then go on to develop chronic hepatitis C, which is a long-term illness that leads to chronic liver disease. About 1 in 3 individuals with chronic hepatitis C infection will develop more serious and progressive liver disease which can lead to cirrhosis, complications of advanced liver disease and even liver cancer.
Hepatitis C can be transmitted in a number of ways but usually involves contact with infected blood. Many people with hepatitis C had an exposure years ago that they might not even know about or remember. Risk factors for Hepatitis C include:
- Blood transfusion prior to 1992
- Injecting drugs
- Being on dialysis
- Sexual contact with someone that has hepatitis C
- Getting a tattoo or body piercings with a contaminated instrument
- Being exposed as a health care worker
Hepatitis C Screenings Available at University Hospitals
Screening for hepatitis C can be accomplished by a simple blood test that can be ordered by your primary care or liver provider. In recent years, screening recommendations have expanded to include more of the population, who may not even have any obvious hepatitis C risks. One group of individuals, where there has been an increase in awareness for hepatitis C screening is the baby boomers (anyone born from 1945 – 1965). More recent recommendations by the CDC promote even more broad hepatitis C screening in all adults ages 18-79.
UH Experts Offer Advanced Treatments for Hepatitis C
Treating hepatitis C used to be very difficult. However, over the last several years, there have been incredible advances in the treatment of hepatitis C. Now using oral medications (pills), treatment can be accomplished in 8 to 12 weeks for the majority of patients with minimal side effects and success rates that approach 100 percent.
What to Expect at your Clinic Appointment
Your liver specialist, will review your diagnosis, determine if you need to be screened for other viral illnesses, assess the extent of your liver disease from hepatitis C, and discuss treatment options. Medications are prescribed with our clinical pharmacist in the UH Specialty Pharmacy. Patients with advanced liver disease or liver cancer may need to be evaluated for liver transplant.
Less Common Types of Viral Hepatitis
Hepatitis D: A rare but serious viral infection that only occurs in people who also have the Hepatitis B virus. If hepatitis D is a consideration, your liver specialist will address this together with your hepatitis B diagnosis.
Hepatitis E: A rare type of viral hepatitis that, historically, was thought to be transmitted through contaminated drinking water. More recent advances in the study of hepatitis E show that it can also be transmitted (passed) through certain undercooked meats. Symptoms include jaundice, lack of appetite and nausea, like in other forms of hepatitis. Your liver specialist can make this diagnosis with a blood test and determine if treatment is needed.