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Digestive Diseases and Hepatitis

Hepatitis and Pregnancy

An infected mother can give hepatitis B to her child during or after birth if the newborn is not treated. All pregnant women should be tested for hepatitis B. Infants born to mothers with hepatitis B need to receive treatment within 12 hours of birth. Hepatitis B can be completely eliminated by successful vaccination.

What Are the Symptoms of Hepatitis?

The most common symptoms of hepatitis include:

  • Dark urine (Hepatitis A, B, C)
  • Stomach pain (Hepatitis A, B, C)
  • Yellow skin or eye whites (Hepatitis A, B, C)
  • Pale or clay-colored stool (Hepatitis A, B, C)
  • Low-grade fever (Hepatitis A, B, C)
  • Loss of appetite (Hepatitis A, B, C)
  • Fatigue (Hepatitis A, B, C)
  • Feeling sick to the stomach (Hepatitis A, B, C)
  • Lack of nutrition (Hepatitis A, B, C)
  • Aching joints (Hepatitis B)

If you have any, or a combination of these symptoms, contact your health care provider as soon as possible.

How Is Hepatitis Diagnosed?

There are numerous blood tests that can diagnose viral hepatitis.

Can Hepatitis Be Treated?

There are no treatments that will cure hepatitis A, other than to monitor carefully the liver's function.

Hepatitis B, when chronic, can often be treated successfully. Interferon, lamivudine, adefovir, and entecavir are all used to treat hepatitis B.

For hepatitis C, some people (approximately 40% to 80%) respond to a combination of the medications peginterferon alpha and ribavirin. However, there are many side effects to this treatment including severe anemia (low red blood cells) and birth defects.

Incivek and Victrelis are also approved as add-on therapy that can boost the chances that hepatitis C will be cured. They both target the HCV protease enzyme, making it nearly impossible for the virus to replicate. Although the virus quickly becomes resistant to either drug used alone, combination therapy with interferon and ribavirin keeps HCV in check. There is active research currently in progress regarding Hepatitis C and several new drugs are in the pipeline.

What Is the Prognosis for Hepatitis?

Most people recover from acute hepatitis even though it may take several months for the liver to heal. To help improve your health and to help speed up recovery:

  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Practice good nutrition.
  • If you feel sick, rest.
  • Take any medicine prescribed for you. Check with your doctor before taking any new medications, including over-the-counter drugs, herbs, and dietary supplements


WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by William Blahd, MD on July 09, 2014

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