Your liver is a large, solid organ that produces bile for digestion, supports metabolism and filters toxins out of the bloodstream. One of the diseases that can affect the liver is viral hepatitis . Some patients develop mild hepatitis, but it’s also possible for this disease to lead to life-threatening complications. The U.S. recognizes May as Hepatitis Awareness Month. Consider talking to a doctor at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center about whether you should get tested for hepatitis.
What are the types of hepatitis?
Hepatitis is caused by a group of viruses, known as the hepatitis A, B, C, D and E viruses.
- Hepatitis A: Usually spread by exposure to infected fecal matter or by anal sex with an infected partner. This type is usually mild and often resolves by itself within two months.
- Hepatitis B: Spread by exposure to infected bodily fluids, including saliva, semen and vaginal fluids. It can also be spread during childbirth, while sharing needles or while sharing contaminated personal hygiene items.
- Hepatitis C: Usually spread by contact with infected blood. It may require treatment to prevent complications.
- Hepatitis D: Only develops in people with hepatitis B. It spreads through exposure to infected blood and via unprotected sex.
- Hepatitis E: Not usually found in the U.S., but may affect international travelers. It spreads through contact with infected fecal matter.
Can hepatitis lead to other complications?
It’s possible for viral hepatitis to lead to long-term complications, but this depends on the specific virus. Hepatitis A doesn’t lead to chronic liver disease, but B and C might. Some patients may develop the following:
- Liver fibrosis (scarring)
- Liver cirrhosis (serious scarring)
- Liver cancer
Should I get tested for hepatitis?
Only your doctor can determine if hepatitis testing is right for you . In general, screenings are recommended for:
- Expecting mothers
- Childcare workers
- People in close contact with infected patients
- People with multiple sexual partners
- Those who use injected drugs
- People with tattoos
- Those with jobs that require close contact with bodily fluids
- Certain international travelers
At Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center , we’ve built a tradition of caring for our patients as if they were our own family. Residents of Las Vegas receive world-class care at our Digestive Health Institute and its Centers for Liver, Pancreas and Bile Duct. Call (702) 233-5300, and a friendly member of our nursing staff can provide a physician referral.