Hepatitis Specialist

Gastrointestinal Medicine Associates

Gastroenterologists located in Fairfax, VA & Reston, VA

More than half of all the people living with hepatitis don’t know they have it because it doesn’t cause symptoms. While they go about their lives, the virus is at work, damaging their liver and potentially leading to liver failure. The board-certified physicians at Gastrointestinal Medicine Associates offer comprehensive treatment for hepatitis, including medications that fight the infection, antiviral medications that can cure hepatitis C, and aggressive treatment to slow down progressive liver damage. Call one of the offices in Fairfax and Reston, Virginia, today to get expert care for hepatitis.

Hepatitis Q&A

What is hepatitis?

Hepatitis refers to liver inflammation that may arise from several possible causes, including alcohol abuse, toxins, autoimmune disease, and some medications.

The most common cause, however, is a viral infection. There are five types of viral hepatitis, but hepatitis D and E are rare. 

The three most common include:

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A can make you very sick, but the infection is short-lived and your body usually overcomes the virus in a few weeks or months. This virus is uncommon in the United States. It spreads when you come into contact with anything contaminated by infected stool.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B may last a short time or become an ongoing, chronic problem. A chronic infection can live in your body for decades without causing symptoms, but during that time, it damages your liver. This type spreads through contact with bodily fluids, such as saliva, blood, and semen.

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C usually becomes a chronic condition. Like hepatitis B, you may have an acute flare-up of symptoms, but most of the time, you won’t have symptoms. Then you end up with liver disease. Hepatitis C is one of the main causes of cirrhosis.

Hepatitis C is spread through contact with contaminated blood, usually by sharing needles when using drugs. If you received a blood transfusion before 1992, you’re also at risk of having hepatitis C and should be screened.

What symptoms develop if I have hepatitis?

Hepatitis A, B, and C cause symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • No appetite
  • Fever
  • Joint pain
  • Dark urine
  • Jaundice
  • Itching
  • Swollen abdomen (ascites)
  • Swollen legs (edema)

If you have hepatitis C, you may also bleed or bruise easily.

How is hepatitis treated?

Vaccinations are available to prevent hepatitis A and hepatitis B. If you get hepatitis A, you may need medication to relieve your symptoms. Otherwise, most people clear the virus out of their bodies.

Once you have hepatitis B, there’s no cure. The team at Gastrointestinal Medicine Associates treats the infection with antiviral medications that fight the virus and slow down liver damage.

Most people with hepatitis C can be cured with direct-acting antiviral medicines. You take these medications for 8-24 weeks, depending on which one your provider prescribes.

If you have hepatitis B or hepatitis C, you need ongoing testing to monitor your liver. As experts in liver disease, the team creates a customized treatment plan for you that encompasses a special diet, lifestyle changes, and medications that limit or slow down liver damage.

To learn more about hepatitis, call Gastrointestinal Medicine Associates today.