Doctor's Notes on Hepatitis A
(HAV, Hep A)
Hepatitis A is a disease characterized by inflammation of the liver. It is caused by and infection with the hepatitis A virus. Hepatitis A virus is spread from person to person by contaminated stools (feces), foods that have been touched or prepared by an infected person, and close personal contact with an infected person, or contaminated water. It is not spread by coughing, sneezing, or being near an infected person.
People can be infected with hepatitis A and not show any symptoms. When they do occur, symptoms of hepatitis A can include fever, chills, fatigue, stomach discomfort, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. Other associated signs and symptoms can include light-colored stools, dark yellow urine, and yellowing of the whites of the eyes and skin (known as jaundice).
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CirrhosisCirrhosis is a scarring of the liver over a long period, causing the liver to lose its function, which is primarily to filter toxins, aid digestion. Cirrhosis can be caused by a number of factors, often a hepatitis infection or chronic alcohol abuse. Some medications are prescribed to releive symptoms. Liver transplantation is the only curative treatment for advanced cirrhosis.
Hepatitis B (HBV, Hep B)Hepatitis is a general term that means inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis B is caused by infection with the hepatitis B virus (HBV, Hep B). Hepatitis B is transmitted from one person to another person via blood in semen, saliva, vaginal discharge, etc. Symptoms of hepatitis B include loss of appetite, fatigue, nausea, itching, jaundice, and abdomen pain.
Hepatitis C (Hep C, HCV)Hepatitis C (Hep C, HCV) is inflammation of the liver caused by infection with the hepatitis C virus. Hepatitis C is contagious. Symptoms of hepatitis C include fatigue, abdominal pain, nausea, loss of appetite, and jaundice. Treatment for hepatitis C are medications, and if necessary, liver transplant.
Immunization Schedule, AdultsAt least 45,000 adults in the United States die of complications of influenza, pneumococcal infections, and hepatitis B each year. Adults need the following vaccines: chickenpox, hepatitis B, MMR, Td/Tdap, flu, shingles, and pneumococcal.
Immunizations and Antibiotics for Overseas TravelMost immunizations are not required under International Health Requirements but are recommended. Anyone lacking certain region- or country-specific immunizations may be denied entry into or exit from a country.
Liver Blood TestsLiver blood tests are used to check the levels and function of liver enzymes in the blood called AST and ALT or aminotransferases in the blood. Symptoms of elevated or high liver enzymes in the blood include fever, abdominal pain, poor appetite, itching, and nausea. Normal levels of liver enzymes in blood are caused by liver diseases caused by drugs, for example, acetaminophen (Tylenol), pain medications, and statins. Less common causes of abnormal levels of ALT or AST levels in the blood are alcoholic and non-alcoholic liver diseases (NASH), hepatitis, and alcoholism. Normal levels of ALT ranges from about 7-56 units/liter, and 10-40 units/liters for AST. Elevated (high) and low liver enzymes elevated levels of AST and ALT may signify the level of liver damage the person has. A blood sample is sent to the laboratory for measurement. Usually, you doctor will have the results interpreted within a few hours to days. Liver blood tests are used to check normal, elevated (high), and low blood levels of liver enzymes (AST and ALT or aminotransferases). Symptoms of elevated levels of liver enzymes are fever, abdominal pain, poor appetite, and nausea. Drugs, for example, acetaminophen (Tylenol), pain drugs, and statins caused high levels of liver enzymes. Less common causes are NASH, hepatitis, and alcoholism.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.