May Is Hepatitis Awareness Month


hHow much do you know about hepatitis?

Did you know there are different kinds of hepatitis?

Or that there are hepatitis vaccines?

For some, the word “hepatitis” simply means “liver disease,” but there’s much more to this condition. Most people generally know that hepatitis is serious, but they may not understand the difference between hepatitis B and hepatitis C, or that certain types of hepatitis can be short term, but others are chronic, even life threatening, if left untreated.

This lack of knowledge is understandable but unfortunate, especially when considering that hepatitis can be easily contracted and spread from person to person. To highlight Hepatitis Awareness Month, San Francisco Gastroenterology is working to spread awareness about how hepatitis is contracted and what you can do to lower your risk. We are proud to share the CDC’s Know More Hepatitis campaign, which highlights important statistics and facts about hepatitis, its symptoms and treatment.

What is hepatitis?

To have hepatitis means that your liver is inflamed. This inflammation can be caused by a number of factors, including infection, drug or alcohol use, or other toxins that have entered the body. At SFGI, we see and treat patients who suffer from hepatitis B or hepatitis C.

Is hepatitis serious?

If left untreated, both hepatitis B and C can lead to serious liver damage caused by liver disease or cirrhosis. For those with hepatitis B, recover is possible with timely, proactive treatment. However, for those with hepatitis C, it is likely that your condition will become chronic (as it does for many hepatitis C patients), requiring medications that can eliminate about 70-80% of the virus but never entirely rid your body of the virus.

Who’s at risk for hepatitis? How can I protect myself?

Generally, those who practice good health and hygiene habits will not be at risk for contracting hepatitis. Hepatitis is also more prevalent in developing countries, so those who travel to such countries should consider receiving hepatitis vaccines prior to travel.

Here are some risk factors for hepatitis:

  • Engaging in unprotected intercourse
  • Living with someone who has hepatitis
  • Engaging in Illegal drug use
  • Being a healthcare worker who works where needles are present

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