About 4.4 million Americans live with viral hepatitis. Unfortunately, many of them don’t even know they’re at risk. At Gastroenterology Specialists of Orlando, board-certified gastroenterologist Robert Baker, MD, provides comprehensive care for adults living with hepatitis. To schedule an appointment at the Orlando, Florida-based practice, call or book online today.
Hepatitis is an umbrella term used to describe liver inflammation. It can occur due to a viral infection, an autoimmune disease, or as a secondary result of taking certain prescription medications, drugs, or alcohol.
Your liver is an organ located on the upper right side of your abdomen. It plays a crucial role in digestion, breaking down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Additionally, your liver filters toxins from the body and synthesizes blood proteins and clotting factors.
There are five types of viral hepatitis and several additional types of noninfectious hepatitis. At Gastroenterology Specialists of Orlando, Dr. Baker diagnoses and treats:
Dr. Baker also treats autoimmune hepatitis. This type of hepatitis occurs when your immune system identifies your liver as harmful. This causes ongoing inflammation that can range from mild to severe. Anyone can experience autoimmune hepatitis, but it’s three times more common in women.
The symptoms of hepatitis affect everyone differently. Common indications include:
As hepatitis progresses, you might also experience yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes, a condition called jaundice.
To diagnose hepatitis, Dr. Baker conducts a physical examination, reviews your medical history, and asks about your symptoms and lifestyle. During your exam, he gently presses on your abdomen looking for areas of pain or tenderness, and to see if you have an enlarged liver.
Next, he orders a series of lab tests that monitor liver function. If you have high liver enzymes, it may indicate that your liver doesn’t function properly. Dr. Baker can also order tests to detect viruses that cause hepatitis.
If lab tests don’t provide enough information, Dr. Baker might also order an abdominal ultrasound or a liver biopsy. A liver biopsy is a quick, minimally invasive procedure used to take a sample of tissue from your liver.
Treatment for hepatitis depends on the type of hepatitis you have. If you have hepatitis A, B, or C, Dr. Baker might prescribe antiviral medications. Hepatitis E usually presents an acute infection that heals on its own.
Some people with hepatitis C also experience cirrhosis or liver scarring. If this occurs, a liver transplant may be necessary.
If you have autoimmune hepatitis, Dr. Baker might recommend treatment with corticosteroids like prednisone or budesonide. He might also recommend taking immunosuppressive drugs like azathioprine or mycophenolate.
Ultimately, the goal of hepatitis treatment is to ease uncomfortable symptoms, prevent further complications, and improve your overall quality of life.
To explore your treatment options for hepatitis, schedule an appointment at Gastroenterology Specialists of Orlando. Call the office or book a consultation online today.