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What are the Symptoms of Viral Hepatitis?
Many cases of viral hepatitis are not diagnosed because the symptoms are vague and similar to a flu–like illness. Sometimes, there are no symptoms at all. Some individuals with viral hepatitis may develop fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, muscle and joint aches, and changes in the color of urine and stools. A few of the individuals with viral hepatitis may develop jaundice. Jaundice means that the skin and whites of the eyes turn yellow. Itching of the skin may also occur with jaundice.
What Should I Do if I Have Been Exposed to or Think that I Have Viral Hepatitis?
Call your doctor and schedule an urgent appointment. Your doctor will take a history, do a physical examination, and order blood tests to determine your diagnosis.
Will I Need a Liver Biopsy?
Liver biopsy is a procedure by which a needle is used to remove a small piece of liver to be analyzed under a microscope. This procedure is done to confirm the diagnosis of viral hepatitis and to determine the degree of damage the virus has caused. A liver biopsy is usually not needed to determine the cause of hepatitis.
What is the Difference Between Acute and Chronic Hepatitis?
Acute hepatitis is the initial infection, and may be mild or severe. If the infection lasts for six months or longer the condition is called chronic hepatitis. Hepatitis A and E do not cause chronic hepatitis. The hepatitis viruses B, C, and D can produce both an acute and chronic episode of illness. Chronic hepatitis B and C are major health concerns.
Is Hospitalization Required for People with Hepatitis?
Usually hospitalization is not required. If a person cannot keep food or liquids down over a period of time, the doctor may decide hospitalization is needed.
What is a Carrier?
A carrier is a person who has hepatitis B, C, or D virus in the blood. This person may or may not have any symptoms of the disease. Because the virus is in the blood, it can be transmitted to others. Blood tests can determine if someone is a carrier.
What is the Treatment for Chronic Viral Hepatitis?
After the doctor has determined which type of hepatitis virus is present, treatment programs can be discussed. Some helpful hints for people with chronic viral hepatitis are listed below:
- Review your medical history thoroughly with your doctor.
- Exercising will depend on the presence and degree of fatigue present. If there is no fatigue, there are no restrictions to the amount or type of exercise that can be performed.
- During the acute phase of illness, all alcoholic beverages should be avoided.
- A nutritious, well–balanced diet is encouraged.