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What is Hepatitis?

Hepatitis is an inflammatory condition of the liver. The liver is a large organ that sits on the right side of the belly that performs many important functions that affect metabolism in the body. These include bile production, filtering toxins from the body, excretion of bilirubin, hormones and cholesterol and much more.

There are many different forms of hepatitis, including the following:

Autoimmune Hepatitis

Occurs when the body creates antibodies against the liver tissue.

Alcoholic Hepatitis

Drinking too much alcohol can lead to inflammation and damage to the liver.

Drug-induced Hepatitis

This rare form of hepatitis is caused by a harmful amount of certain medicines, vitamins, herbal remedies or food supplements. If there is too much medicine in your blood for your liver to break down, it can become badly damaged.

Viral Hepatitis

Hepatitis may be caused by a virus. The most common forms of viral hepatitis in the United State are hepatitis A, B and C.

Individuals with viral hepatitis may not experience symptoms until damage affects how the liver function. Common signs and symptoms of hepatitis include:

  • Flu-like symptoms.
  • Fatigue.
  • Abdominal Pain.
  • Dark Urine.
  • Weight Loss.
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice).

How is Hepatitis Diagnosed?

In order to properly diagnose hepatitis, your doctor will speak with you regarding your health history and symptoms. A physical examination will be done in which your doctor will feel if your liver is enlarged or you are exhibiting signs of jaundice. There are also additional tests that may be recommended such as liver function blood tests, ultrasound or liver biopsy.

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Treatment Options for Hepatitis

Treatment for hepatitis will be dependent on the type of hepatitis, as well as your health history and age. A breakdown of treatment may look like:

Autoimmune Hepatitis

Treatment for autoimmune hepatitis involves corticosteroids such as prednisone in the early stages However, because corticosteroids should not be used long-term, Azathioprine (Imuran) or other drugs are often used to suppress the immune system and control symptoms.

Alcoholic Hepatitis

The goal of alcoholic hepatitis treatment is to ease the signs and symptoms of liver damage. Individuals must stop drinking alcohol to halt further damage to the liver. Your doctor may also recommend treatment for malnutrition or medications to reduce liver damage.  

Drug-induced Hepatitis

In order to treat drug-induced hepatitis, you must stop taking the medication that is causing the problem. Your doctor will closely monitor your liver while it recovers. In some cases, the liver can heal itself, while in others, there may be complications that require further treatment.

Viral Hepatitis

Hepatitis A does not usually require treatment as it is a short-term illness. Acute hepatitis B does not require specific treatment, while chronic hepatitis B can be treated with antiviral medications. Antiviral medications can also be used to treat both acute and chronic forms of hepatitis C.

Your South Denver GI Team

At South Denver GI, our team of physicians and advanced practice providers have the expertise to provide you with outstanding care. If you would like to learn more about Hepatitis or need to schedule an appointment at our office, contact us today!

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